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额外视频 | 单数”They“

让我们来看看”singular they“的用法以及它的历史。




so you may have been hearing a lot of talk about this thing called singular they recently not not knowing entirely what it is or whether or not it's okay to use in a sentence or in formal writing it's been in the news a lot lately you know we're seeing publications like The Washington Post and The Economist putting it into their style guides was the American dialect Society's word of the year in 2015 but like what it is it and is it okay to use I know that I got dinged all the time for using they as a singular pronoun in papers in high school alumnus is I got a lot of trouble for using is which should always be circled some teachers of mine just really hate it is I I get it now it's kind of weak but hey wait we're not talking about that tonight we're talking about they singular thing so they is more commonly known as the plural third person pronoun in English so if we say you know Rolando and Phil go to the park we can switch out Rolando and Phil and say hey go to the park and that's one usage of they but you may have also seen sentences that look like this like when a journalist files a story they should always make sure their sources check out or anyone will tell you the truth if you ask them the right questions and you may have noticed that these sentences use the word they to agree with a singular antecedent like journalists or anyone now for some of you you might not have noticed and for some of you you might have your immediate reaction might have been wait and let me get my red pen but before you do in order to explain the context and the history around this usage around singular vais I would like for a moment to talk about you not you the person you the person are in a vast unknowable ocean but I mean you the the pronoun and and how weird and transgressive and transformative it is in many languages today there are second person pronouns for both singular and plural usage in French for example we'd say - for singular U and vu for plural you - to one person vu - many there's also a social distinction here that was once more pronounced where you'd say vous - social superiors and - - close friends now in those language the vous form is formal and the TU form is informal you're addressing someone you don't know very well you use vous you're addressing your best buddy you used to all of this is to say that English used to have the same distinction so this this kind of lines up with - and vous once upon a time the singular second person subject form was Val the object form of the singular was thee the plural second person subject form was Yi or yeh the object form was you this is where u comes in all right and and so we it's funny because we think of thee and thou as being more fancy and formal but really was the opposite way this was the informal and ye and u was the the formal now you may recall from our video on who versus whom that I said whom was on its way out of the language its usage is being overtaken by who it is now easily permissible to use who as an object as in the song who do you love by bo Diddley well the same thing that's happening to whom happened to ye over the years its function decreased as you took over it took on a subject and object role as well as singular and plural functions but it was still reserved for the highborn it was the polite form of address used for addressing social peers so even though there's only one king you would refer to that King as you because apparently he was better than you he wasn't but we'll get to that but something marvelous happened in English the social distinction between you and vow fell away and you overtook Val and it's subject form thee so now for both the singular and the plural for the informal and the formal for the subject and the object all we have here is you you you and you it it'd be as if I me and we were all replaced by us I cannot emphasize how revolutionary this is in English you address a king and a peasant with the same address under the language they are equal mind you the existence of a single form of direct address did not annihilate class distinctions or prejudice in the english-speaking world but it is no longer possible to encode a power relationship in English in the very specific way it once was I cheer this development I think it's awfully democratic and affirming of the principle that all human beings are worthy of respect which brings us today this didn't really used to be a problem in English composition people were writing sentences like everybody has their failing you know and everybody has a right to do what they like with their own money which is a Jane Austen quote by the way from northing or Abbie Austin used this construction Chaucer used this construction Shakespeare used this construction CS Lewis used this construction these are the people that we look to as Paragons of correctness and of style and English literature and they used this form without any compunction there is a class of grammarians who thought it would be a great idea to make English adhere to Latin grammar rules which is where we get silly language superstitions like the prohibition on ending sentences with prepositions making it ungrammatical to say a sentence like he's a guy you can rely on or spreading the spurious rumor that you couldn't split in English in Phin ative as in you know to boldly go these are falsehoods and they are confusing and they are needless pompous class markers and defeating them and making you feel more comfortable with English is why I got into this profession in the first place anyway that group of grammarians that group decided that when speaking of a generic person we should say he a hypothetical person in a sentence was always he on the grounds that according to 16th century grammarian William Lilly quote the masculine gender is more worthy than the feminine so you'd be you'd get sentences that began any judge worth his salt or anyone that would say that is out of his mind which presumably was supposed to refer to anyone now for centuries arguments raged over whether or not the generic he erased women from consideration and now with the benefit of hindsight we can say of course ed did the generic he isn't generic when referring to a person whose gender is unknown or undefined by he or she it is elegant to call such a person they as opposed to the ungainly he or she or she like s /h e which on their own look all right but in context and especially when they're repeated tend to get a little clunky and distracting what happened to the word you has happening today the plural is expanding into the realm of the singular again the language is changing because that's what languages do and now this is something that's already done unconsciously you see the literature you see in the Bible and formal as well as informal speech but formalizing this understanding is what undergirds the decisions of the economists and the Washington Post to start using singular vey formally like if you had to ask me right now David is the singular vague grammatical I'd say it's as grammatical is you but yeah this is this is some of the context of angular they this is where it comes from this is why it's used this is what it's replacing it's replacing this generic he and this kind of a clunky she or he you can learn anything damn it out