I’ve long espoused the utility of the singular they as a handy pronoun for when the sex of the subject is hypothetical or unknown. But as a copyeditor, I’m beholden to convention—it’s not for me to tell an author they should use a form that some people consider ungrammatical. My job is to provide clarity and avoid bumps along the way.
“You Heard ’Em Here First: Words of 2015”: Will you experience a textruption in 2015? Perhaps you’ll work for a platisher this year. Ben Zimmer looks at some possible new words. (The Wall Street Journal)
Where would editors be without words? In today’s News Roundup, learn the history of a common phrase, check out the runners-up in Oxford Dictionaries’ WOTY contest, and rethink all those slang words you love to hate.
When new words pop up in pop culture, as they do, it never occurs to me to bemoan the state of the English language or the literacy of the current generation. Whether I like a modern coinage or think it’s the worstmanteau ever (surely that one is in the running), my initial response tends to be appropriately learned and eloquent, like “Heck yeah — words!”