February 13, 2004


Brian gives a gender-neutral translation of "Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friend." (His main point is that "they" can be used as a singular.) In comments, Rich suggests using "one" as the gender-neutral personal pronoun. This reminded me of James Thurber on "one":

'The chief objection to a consistent, or "cross-country" use of "one" is that it tends to make a sentence sound like a trombone solo - such as: "One knows one's friends will help one if one is in trouble, or at least one trusts one's friends will help one." Even though this is correct, to the point of being impeccable, there is no excuse for it. The "one" enthusiast should actually take up the trombone and let it go at that.'

The Thurb was referring to use of "one" instead of "I," as you can tell. Anyway, read the whole thing, read all of Thurber on Modern English Usage if you can find it, and thanks to Caroline Heycock for putting this bit on the web where I could get it right.

Posted by Matt Weiner at February 13, 2004 09:18 AM