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Xiphias Gladius

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A linguistic prediction: [Feb. 1st, 2016|03:09 pm]
Xiphias Gladius
The word "they" is singular as well as plural. I mean, we're now at the point where we can just plain say that -- not that "some people use 'they' as singular" or "I wish we could use 'they' as singular". We're now basically at the point where someone uses "they" for a person of unspecified gender. It's not yet used as a true generic term -- you STILL use "he" or "she" exclusively when the person is known to have a male or female gender, but I bet even that will go away after a while.

But here's my prediction:

"They-all". Or "theys", but basically "they-all" or "they'll" as short for "they-all" instead of "they will."

"Theys guys" or "them guys" will exist, too, but be more regional. "They-uns" has a low probability, but is still possible.

Still -- five, ten years to "they-all". At the outside. Could be quicker.

See, when we repurpose a plural as a generic, we leave a gap for the plural. And we fill that gap in. Ever since we replaced "thou" with "you", we've needed an actual second person plural, which is why we have "y'all", "youse", "you guys", "youse guys", "y'alls", "all y'all", all the way up to "all y'alls". Although the superplurals are fairly rare. It's mostly "y'all" and "you guys"

Once "they" is fully established as both a singular and a plural, and "he" and "she" start falling away like "thou" did, it will leave a gap for third person plural. And that will be filled with "they-all".

75% probability, as a gut feeling.

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[User Picture]From: tylik
2016-02-02 02:46 am (UTC)
That was might thought exactly.

...and I'm only Southern via my grandpa.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2016-02-02 03:19 am (UTC)
Not a member, but you can feel free to cut and paste it.
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[User Picture]From: ethelmay
2016-02-04 02:05 am (UTC)
Why "theys guys" when we already have "these guys" and "those guys"? (and of course "guys" is technically male, so many would prefer "folks" or something).
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2016-02-04 11:05 am (UTC)
Good point. That would be another option. I'm going to stick by my prediction of "they-all" or some such variation, but I think you've pretty well exploded my idea of "they guys."
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