The Corner

Culture

A Little More Language from ‘Slate’

The vandalism of English pronouns has led to some very entertaining barbarisms. Here is a headline from one of Slate’s increasingly porny advice columns: “Can I Ask Trans Women I’m Dating if They Have a Penis?”

You can follow how this went wrong in the copy-editor’s mind: Women is plural, they is plural but often is used illiterately as though it were gender-neutral and singular, have goes with the third-person plural rather than singular, and penis is singular.

They have a penis” makes me think of that scene in Clash of the Titans in which the Graeae pass back and forth the one eye they share among the three of them.

And if they shared one eye and one tooth, as the myth says, then who is to say, the times being what they are . . . ?

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