Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Doublet and hose and usage

This passage arrived this morning with Bryan Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day:

[I]t does not follow that because a certain form of speech was current in earlier times it is therefore acceptable today — we might as well suggest that, because in Queen Elizabeth’s time our forefathers dressed in doublet and hose, we could wear the same garb without causing excitement and suspicion as to our mental condition.

Henry Alexander, The Story of Our Language (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1940).
See also mededitor’s “Jane Austen” fallacy. And here’s my take on the fallacy.

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comments: 2

The Arthurian said...

Reading the Garner quote in your post, I thought first of the common use of "they" where "he" was current in earlier times.

I was pleased with myself when I read the mededitor's rejection of the "singular they". And surprised to read your take on it: "Exactly". (I expected you to allow the singular they.)

Reading Ronald Reagan's 1964 address on behalf of Senator Barry Goldwater this morning, I decided to respond to your post when I came across this line:

They want to make you and I believe that this is a contest between two men...

You and me, Mr. President.

Thanks for listening, Michael. Sometimes I just have to object to a word.

Michael Leddy said...

Obama also uses that I — “for Michelle and I.”

I think singular they Is sometimes fine with a singular pronoun. But not because Austen or Shakespeare used it! I’m not sure that the word will work well as a non-binary alternative to he or she. Wait and see.