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Jan
20
comment Is there a correct gender-neutral, singular pronoun (“his” versus “her” versus “their”)?
@ivanhoescott Whether such use is grammatically correct or not is, I think, a subject about which English speakers disagree. I don't dispute that you can find examples of such usage in printed texts. But you can also find many people who will say that such usage is wrong. As we've discussed on other threads, a problem with arguing about grammar is that it's difficult to say what constitutes proof that a certain position is right or wrong.
Jan
20
comment Is there a correct gender-neutral, singular pronoun (“his” versus “her” versus “their”)?
Well, sure, one can think of special cases where you could refer to a specific person and not know their gender. As you say, the anonymous author of a book, the person identified as doing a certain thing but that's all the speaker knows about that person ("The person who murdered Mr Boddy", "The inventor of the first wooden plow"), or a person with a name that could apply to either sex ("Robin", "Taylor", a name in a foreign language that we are not familiar with). But USUALLY, if you are talking about a specific person, you know their gender, which I think was Mr Reynold's point.
Jan
14
comment “World-famous” vs “internationally recognized”
I didn't say it was a true story. It's a joke. A joke on the idea that the British judge someone based on his family reputation rather than his individual achievement -- at least that's how American's see it. I'm sure the British have jokes about Americans.
Jan
14
comment “World-famous” vs “internationally recognized”
Reminds me of the story of an American company that asked an applicant's former employer, which was in the UK, for a letter of recommendation. They replied with a letter saying how Mr Smith came from a distinguished family, that his grandfather was a viscount and his uncle an admiral, etc. The American company sent a letter back saying, "Perhaps there has been some misunderstanding. We were considering hiring Mr Smith as an accountant, and not for breeding purposes."
Dec
17
comment Antonym for 'preaching to the choir'
That is an opposite of "preaching to the choir" ... but not in the sense that the questioner is asking for.
Dec
9
comment Kids addressing older people
@talmu If a child's teacher was also a family friend, I wouldn't be surprised to hear a child call her "Aunt Sally" at home but "Mrs Brown" at school. Just like, if I was in an environment where people routinely referred to each other by last name, I wouldn't break the pattern at the office for someone who happened to be a personal friend. Like, if I was introducing speakers at a convention, I wouldn't say, "The speakers today will be Mr Brown, Dr Miller, Bob, and Mrs Hoover." That would just be weird. Etc.
Dec
8
comment Kids addressing older people
@mitch In some circles, Ms is the default title. In other circles it's shunned. Use of this title has heavy social and political implications.
Dec
8
comment Kids addressing older people
@ae I live in the U.S. When I was a boy in the 1960s and 70s, I routinely addressed friends of my parents as "Uncle Joe", "Aunt Corinne", etc. I believe this was fairly common at the time. I have heard this usage more recently but I can't say how common it is. Note I am talking about addressing close family friends. As you say, I have never heard someone call a school janitor, a store clerk, etc, "Aunt <X>".
Dec
8
comment Kids addressing older people
@mitch, Oh, sorry, misunderstood what you were trying to say. Just as well, though, maybe other readers would misunderstand as well and the clarification might be helpful!
Dec
8
answered Kids addressing older people
Dec
8
comment Kids addressing older people
American's do not use the word "janitress". If the janitor is a woman, we still call her a "janitor" (or more likely, "custodian"). For almost all professions separate terms for male and female are considered horribly politically incorrect. Various organizations go to great lengths to come up with gender-neutral names for occupations, like "flight attendant" to replace "steward/stewardess", "server" to replace "waiter/waitress", etc. I have fond memories of seeing a long list of non-sexist occupational titles put out by a government agency -- the Manpower Administration.
Dec
8
comment Kids addressing older people
... Use of "lady" in a business context is becoming archaic. You rarely hear someone today say, "The ladies in the accounting department ..." or such.
Dec
8
comment Kids addressing older people
In America, "uncle" and "aunt" are used with family friends, but not strangers. As a child I called a friend of my father "Uncle Joe", etc, but I never addressed a teacher or a clerk at the grocery store as "aunt" or uncle". "Lady" as a term of address is a deprecating term. You might say, "Hey lady, watch where you're going, you clumsy idiot!", but you WOULDN'T say, "Excuse me, lady, I have an appointment with Mr Jones." You'd say "miss" or "ma'am". Note "lady" is a polite term when not used as an address, like you can say, "I met a nice lady at the store". ...
Dec
8
comment Kids addressing older people
@Mitch Hmm, I've lived most of my life in New York, Ohio, and Michigan, and I don't recall ever hearing someone address a woman whose name he does not know "Ms.", as in, "Excuse me, Ms., but can you tell me where to find ..." People sometimes use "Ms." with a name, like "Hello, Ms. Brown ...", but not as a stand alone. It's always "ma'am" or "miss", usually "ma'am" for an older woman and "miss" for a younger one. Maybe that's a regionalism; not sure where you're from. Agree that "madam" is archaic, maybe possibly appropriate if you want to be very formal.
Dec
8
comment Meaning of 'up/down' after a verb
Ah, I came to this post because it showed up on my "comments and points" panel. It is similar to a more recent post and that also asked about up and down and I was thinking it was that one.
Dec
8
comment Meaning of 'up/down' after a verb
@Robusto Hmm, it seems to me that if it requires an extended discussion to decide whether or not a piece of information is readily available in general reference, then it almost surely is not. If what you mean is that it's a borderline case, I think we would want to err on the side of answering a person's question.
Dec
4
comment Russian speakers and “I feel myself to be …”
@user14070 Sure, any such statement could be a metaphor. "I feel like I'm a lawyer" might be a literal statement made by someone who has a job very similar to a lawyer, a paralegal or some sort of legal advisor, but who is not technically a lawyer. Or it could be a joke, like someone who has spent months arguing about a contract or a divorce might say, "Wow, after all the reading I've had to do about court procedures and legal technicalities, I feel like I'm a lawyer."
Nov
21
comment Is “Far East” politically incorrect?
How come world maps always put north at the top? Why does no one put the south pole at the top? Or the north pole on the left and the south pole on the right? On the rare occasions when a map does not have north at the top, it's usually at an angle with north NEAR the top, just skewed to fit what the map-maker wanted to fit on the sheet of paper.
Nov
21
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Nov
20
answered Is “denigrate” a racist word?