Language: June 2006 Archives

Great D.A. Carson quote:

When I was a boy of about nine or ten, my father called me over to listen to him reading an editorial or a letter to the editor (I cannot remember which) in The Montreal Star, one of the leading papers in eastern Canada at the time. The writer was inveighing against all those stupid Christians who believe the Bible is the Word of God, when it speaks so ignorantly of the sun "rising" in the east: any schoolboy knows that the sun does not rise, but that the earth rotates on its axis. My father asked me what I thought of the argument. I looked at him rather nonplused. He grinned, and calmly turned to the front page of the paper, and drew my attention to the line, "Sunrise: 6:36 am."

[The formatting and spelling may be affected by the process of scanning the article, as is often the case at this site, so I wouldn't assume he really misspelled 'nonplussed' or that he didn't italicize the name of the newspaper.]

The book review this comes from starts here. It's very long. The particular location of this quote is on this page.

Rick Mansfield has started what looks to be an excellent series on his favorite Bible translations. So far he's done the HCSB and the TNIV. I have to say that I agree with him in the main, with some disagreements expressed in the comments. I'm especially appreciative to see him liking the TNIV for what it is and seeing what it's good for (enough for it to come in second place) while preferring a more formally equivalent translation for his own primary use, because that's exactly my own attitude.

In the comments on the TNIV post, I challenged one of Rick's statements. He says, "From a grammatical standpoint, one of the most controversial aspects of the TNIV's implementation of inclusive language is the use of plural pronouns for singular antecedents. This is in keeping with the way we informally speak, but technically it's a grammatical error." I responded that this use of 'they' is actually singular and pointed him to the linguists at the Language Log blog. He replied that he's never seen it in a grammar book and thus won't believe it until he does. I tried to respond, but Haloscan wouldn't let me leave a comment with lots of links, so I'm just posting it here instead.

Well, it is in a grammar book, The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language. Here is an interview where one of the authors of that book, Geoff Pullum, explains and defends the view on this issue taken in the book. Pullum also blogs at Language Log, and several posts there argue for this view. I managed to dig up a few posts on this here, here, and here.

There's also a strong history of the singular 'they', including a number of the finest writers of the English language and the KJV translators.

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