Saturday, October 4, 2014

You Don't Say

The line in the tv commercial said

"Do you wonder what makes your child behave the way they do?"

Total nonsense, of course.  Grammatically incorrect anyway you parse it.

"Do you wonder what makes your child behave the way he does?"

Grammatically correct, and traditionally understood that "he" is generically representative of either sex.  Drives the feminists up the wall.

So, awkwardly, "behave the way she/he does?"  I have actually seen this sort of thing. 
Or, "behave the way it does?"  Cold, man.  A child is a person, after all.

"Do you wonder what makes your children behave the way they do?"  Tada!  Grammatically correct.  But wait.  Does this suggest that there is a herd of kids and all their behaviors are inexplicable?

Well, what's wrong with that?


Jim Grey said...

As a former professional writer and editor, I would not change a sentence that came to me for editing if it referred to a child as they. It is an inelegant, but increasingly accepted, way of handling the gender problem.

Jim Grey said...

Hunh. Next up in my reading list today:

Vee said...

When a colleague in a university setting corrects the grammar of others, he is avoided at all costs. Because I had a colleague who did that, I became aware that I did mental corrections while in conversations with people. (Maybe that's because I had a mom who stopped me mid-conversation and requested that I repeat sentences correctly.) I have since removed the red pen from my mind and now just enjoy conversing.

I do think that someone with a million dollar budget for producing an advertisement should get it right. (Should that be get it correct? Write correctly? Write right?)

Very good article Jim cited.

vanilla said...

Jim, "inelegant" is probably more charitable than I have been. I do realize I am a stodgy old person stuck, perhaps, in the 50s. Thanks for the link; I find it interesting. Further comment in my response to Vee.

Vee, I think it unlikely that I would correct someone's grammar in conversation; but you have seen my proclivity to taking to task public presentations. Perhaps Pinker's last statement in the article Jim cited says it best: "But there is a well-known phenomenon that people, because they confuse changes in themselves with changes in the times, as they get older they tend to get more conservative. They tend to get more cynical about the direction of humanity." Yet I am inclined to comment on that, as well. Perhaps the "well known phenomenon" can really be called "accumulation of higher wisdom and understanding."?

Grace said...

I am a little weary of all this gender nonsense - when speaking in the general then use the general, when speaking specifically then use the specific - and under no circumstances refer to me as Ms.

Secondary Roads said...

"Inexplicable" is the operative word.

" . . . as they get older they tend to get more conservative. They tend to get more cynical about the direction of humanity." Yes, that explains a lot. Silly old man that I am, I thought I was just getting grumpy.

Sharkbytes said...

What we need is a brand new word that is genderless for the singular. Why not? There are new words made every day. Let's propose one. How about "vhe" has "he" and "v" could be for that v word that all the feminists want to proclaim loudly these days.

vanilla said...

Grace, that seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Chuck, not getting grumpy; getting wiser.

Sharkey, makes sense, but then I'd have to accept something "new" wouldn't I?

Lin said...

When I see things like that, it drives me crazy. They are paying a LOT of money to advertise, you'd think they would have an editor proof the material.

We have a chain of banks here called "5/3 Bank." I like to refer to them as "1 2/3 Bank" instead.

vanilla said...

Lin, ha ha! When I was a tadpole working in Wichita, I had an account at a Fifth Third Bank. I always thought it a strange name, but I did not know they had adopted the 5/3 logo. One and two-thirds; I would do the same thing you do.