Welcome to October: Change is in the Argot
Leaves and language continue to turn
By Ed Goldman
First, I have to make a confession: I’ve never seen frost on a pumpkin—nor on a “punkin’” for that matter. I’m neither a country boy nor voluntary early riser.
Nevertheless, I’ve always loved this month. I hope climate change won’t disallow there being a certain nip in the air and my switching my office wardrobe to tweed running shorts and corduroy sneakers.
I had no problem many years ago switching from “chairwoman” or “chairman” to “chairperson,” though both before and after, I thought the term referred less to the person running a meeting than to the worker assigned to bring the furniture to the meeting.
I loved the term “Ms” from inception (its, not mine). It really wasn’t anybody’s business the first time you met a woman whether she was married—unless, of course, you intended to propose to her immediately.
But to take a clearly singular entity, like one human being, and refer to him, her or a new combination thereof as “they” seems likely to provoke some confusion.
His real name— Oops. Make that their real name—was Huddie William Ledbetter. They was a great singer.