• Betrifft


    I have just heard, on the BBC's flagship 'Today' radio programme, a presenter use the word 'themself' (i.e. common gender himself/herself), in the context: 'But what if a young person takes an indecent photo of themself?'

    The usage thus has the accolade of respectability.
    Verfasserescoville (237761) 15 Feb. 16, 09:29
    Thank you, escoville. I'll have to make a note of that because I would have automatically said "themselves". Half plural and half singular sounds unusual, not to mention illogical, to me, but if that's what the BBC says, who am I to quibble?
    #1VerfasserSD3 (451227) 15 Feb. 16, 09:45
    I rarely listen to the BBC, but I do read their web new updates, where they definitely need a qualified team of proofreaders (assuming that they have any proofreaders at all). Based on that, I wouldn't consider the BBC to be that which determines respectability in English -- but I know that their "thing" is supposed to be broadcasting. Maybe they just don't try when it comes to the written word.
    #2Verfasserhbberlin (420040) 15 Feb. 16, 09:59
    My final sentence was half tongue-in-cheek. But we can be pretty certain that the Radio 4 'Today' programme enjoys such prestige that the BBC will undoubtedly have received communications already from the green-ink brigade about this particular expression.

    #3Verfasserescoville (237761) 15 Feb. 16, 11:53
    the green-ink brigade

    Korrigieren englische Lehrer mit dem Grünstift statt mit dem Rostift? Curiouser and curiouser.
    #4VerfasserLady Grey (235863) 15 Feb. 16, 11:57
    Who was the presenter? I think it was Sarah Montague and John Humphrys this morning, wasn't it?
    #5VerfasserKinkyAfro (587241) 15 Feb. 16, 12:03
    Zu #4:
    Gemeint ist damit wohl nicht die lehrerhafte Korrektur.Vgl.
    Green Ink Brigade
    I heard this phrase whilst listening to Feedback on BBC Radio 4, and I’m not sure I’ve heard it before. On the programme it was used, not that unkindly, to refer to irate complainants who write into the BBC to express their dissatisfaction with some aspect of programming or management. A bit of digging finds this definition: a collective term for people who write abusive or threatening letters to people in the public eye, from the idea that only the eccentric would write in green ink!...
    ‘The ‘green ink brigade’ is apparently used in news rooms as a euphemism which saves one from talking about the lunatic fringe, and the use of a green ink pen is also said to be the implement of choice of conspiracy theorists and cranks.

    - Alice in Wonderland muss also gar nicht so sehr staunen :-)
    #6Verfasserwienergriessler (925617) 15 Feb. 16, 12:11
    The presenter was Sarah Montague, colonel's daughter, public-school girl, former stockbroker. Very respectable.

    #7Verfasserescoville (237761) 15 Feb. 16, 12:18
    Themself was used during an interview by the head of policy NSPCC Alan Wardle.
    for me the most interesting item was the interview with a Danish journalist (Rasmus Tanholt?) who was embedded with the Syrian army: apart from everyone else, Russian and American soldiers on the ground...1:49:55 http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b070cnxs I notice it is not even mentioned in the batting order...
    #8Verfassernoli (489500) 15 Feb. 16, 12:29
    My final sentence was half tongue-in-cheek.

    My final question was entirely tongue-in-cheek.
    #9VerfasserSD3 (451227) 15 Feb. 16, 12:41
    #7: Being well-spoken and a former public school pupil is by no means tantamount to intelligence in England.

    This is hard to beat though:
    #10VerfasserPipper (917363) 15 Feb. 16, 12:53
    OT I much prefer the Mishal Husain broadcasting style to Sarah Montague's
    #11Verfassernoli (489500) 15 Feb. 16, 12:59
    Re #8

    I was referring to Sarah Montague at 2.19.59.
    #12Verfasserescoville (237761) 15 Feb. 16, 15:01
    Re #10

    But being a public-school pupil is almost tantamount to being well-spoken.

    (I hope that you weren't casting aspersions on Ms Montague's intelligence, because that is beyond doubt!)
    #13Verfasserescoville (237761) 15 Feb. 16, 15:04
    According to Fowler's, themself was used in the BBC publication The Listener  ("where the British did their thinking") as early (or as late) as 1984:
     - "It is not an actor pretending to be Reagan or Thatcher, it is, in grotesque form, the person themself."
    #14VerfasserMikeE (236602) 15 Feb. 16, 19:28
    Re #14

    For someone to do that in writing (30 years ago) must be said to be an 'aggressive' use of language. It shouts out at you: 'I know you might not like this, but this is how I'm going to say it, and that's that.'

    Ms Montague seemed to say it naturally, which seems to me to indicate that it has become part of the normal language of those we regard as setting the standard.
    #15Verfasserescoville (237761) 16 Feb. 16, 10:11
    #13: No doubt about it.

    Maybe she has youthful offspring who influence her English, or maybe she was kicking herself after she said it. I have had the urge to use "themself" in the past but overcome it by turning it into "themselfves" - it sounds and feels wrong even if you have had no English grammar instruction whatsoever.
    #16VerfasserPipper (917363) 16 Feb. 16, 10:59
    Re #15
    Well, it was Ian Hislop!
    But I think it indicates that it is not just a matter of  semi-literate authors and a lack of competent copy-editors. Hislop probably enjoyed the thought of the usual suspects who write letters to the BBC struggling to "correct" the sentence.
    I can't see themself going away, especially when I think of the modern phenomenon of individuals of unconventional gender whose preferred pronoun is "they". 
    #17VerfasserMikeE (236602) 16 Feb. 16, 13:02

    That raises a new point: 'themself' to mean 'either himself or herself' and another 'themself' to mean 'neither himself nor herself, but still human and therefore not itself'.

    In Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness, the ordinary hermaphrodites don't (in their language) distinguish between male and female in humans, but do distinguish for animals, and use the same (animal) pronouns for the few perverted individuals who persist by nature or lifestyle choice in being one or the other.

    Incidentally, I agree about Hislop: like the little boy who gets beaten when he sneezes, 'he only does it to annoy, because he knows it teases'.
    #18Verfasserescoville (237761) 16 Feb. 16, 13:57
    Your attentive BBC monitoring service writes:

    This morning on 'Farming Today' I heard a well-spoken young woman say:
    'Well, me and nearly five million other people might disagree with you...'
    Now, I should say the young woman in question is not a BBC employee, but an academic contributor to the programme. She was talking about a conference being held today on the subject of 'The Archers', the BBC's daily radio soap about rural life, and its relationship to real life. Apparently she is one of the academic organizers of the conference.
    I mention this because while the structure in question is not new (me and most of the people I know use it quite happily), it ruffled a few feathers among other LEO contributors when we discussed the matter -- case of pronouns in conjoined subjects -- in an earlier thread.
    #19Verfasserescoville (237761) 17 Feb. 16, 08:49
    it ruffled a few feathers

    I don't know if mine were among them, but I can confirm that I find me and nearly five million other people might disagree with you decidedly cringeworthy.
    #20VerfasserSD3 (451227) 17 Feb. 16, 09:10
    @3, 4, 6: Accountants use green ink – or at least they used to in the olden days (= damals®).
    #21VerfasserStravinsky (637051) 17 Feb. 16, 12:49
    Accountants bearing similar connotations to "Korinthenkacker", hence the "green ink brigade"?
    #22VerfasserLady Grey (235863) 17 Feb. 16, 12:53
    ... not to mention the head of MI6!
    #23VerfasserMikeE (236602) 17 Feb. 16, 13:02
  • Pinyin
  • Tastatur
  • Sonderzeichen
  • Lautschrift
:-) automatisch zu 🙂 umgewandelt