Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Geoff Nunberg on the Colbert Report
currently under Most Recent Videos at the Colbert Report page
Singular ‘they’ in the KJV
Geoff wrote that ‘The pronoun form they is anaphorically linked in the discourse to this person. Such use of forms of they with singular antecedents is attested in English over hundreds of years, in writers as significant as Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Austen, and Wilde. The people (like the perennially clueless Strunk and White) who assert that such usage is “wrong” simply haven’t done their literary homework and don’t deserve our attention.’
But Geoff left out the single most compelling example. ...
Deuteronomy 17:5 - ‘Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.’