More On “They” As Singular

Since the intention of some of my posts isn’t always clear, I will preface this by saying that I’m agreeing with my blogging friends TC and Stan. I’m providing short quotes from each blog post in case you don’t want to read all of them but I’ve provided links to each one if you are interested.

First came this:
Barack Obama and the TNIV by John Piper

The larger issue here is: Are the “programmatic changes” of the TNIV (and some other recent versions) worth the difficulties that the translators find themselves in when trying to bring singular Greek or Hebrew words over into English as plurals, or masculine words over into English without masculine connotations? The price is high and linguistically unnecessary.

Then TC at New Leaven mentioned it:
Barack Obama and the TNIV by John Piper…

To be honest, when I first saw the title, I thought Piper was going to use President Obama to bash the TNIV on gender-issues. Well, I was right, but not what I expected.

Soon after, Stan came up with some insight:
John Piper, the ESV, and hypocrisy

Aside from sounding extraordinarily petty and lame, perhaps John Piper should read some of the writings on his own blog before he starts drawing conclusions about current English usage.

It seems to me there are enough examples above [see his post] to show that John Piper is somewhat confused regarding the use of pronouns in modern English.

And the reason I thought I would do a little roundup of these posts is because I came across this today and it made me think of it:
National Grammar Day 2009: Ten Common Grammar Myths, Debunked
HT: Challies.com

They can be singular in certain situations. To quote an idol of mine, Geoff Pullum: ‘Avoid singular they if you want to; nobody is making you use it. But don’t ever think that it is new (it goes back to early English centuries ago), or that it is illogical (there is no logical conflict between being syntactically singular and semantically plural), or that it is ungrammatical (it is used by the finest writers who ever used English, writers who uncontroversially knew what they were doing).’

So there you have it.

Update – here is a new post by Stan:
“Singular” they, the ESV, and lost credibility

4 Responses to “More On “They” As Singular”


  1. 1 Stan McCullars

    You have to love it!

  2. 2 Nathan W. Bingham

    Totally unrelated; however, I thought you’d like to know that for the last 24 hours Google Reader has displayed Scripture Zealot as #1 in the Top Recommendations section.  Strange, considering I subscribe, but I thought you’d like to know.

  3. 3 Scripture Zealot

    This blog usually ranks high in the search engines too and I’m not sure why but it’s fine with me. Thanks for letting me know.
    Jeff

  4. 4 Nik

    From the original Hebrew of the Old Testament, ‘iysh ‘elohiym translates to man of God where ‘iysh means man or male. What if some Bible translation out there were to replace man of God with man or woman of God? Not only would such a translation be taking the original Hebrew out of context, but it would be taking God’s established order out of context.

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