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Word Spy's phonetics - and grammar

Posted by Frenk on November 01, 2003

In Reply to: Word Spy's phonetics - and grammar posted by Anders on November 01, 2003

I don't know about the site you mention, but I would like to address the use of "their."

If you will, please forgive me for being direct. The aversion to the use of "their" in the meaning you cite is a common complaint of pedants that don't bother to look in the OED before complaining (don't feel bad -- king pedant Jay Nordlinger over at the National Review made the same mistake).

According to the OED, "their" is, "used instead of ?his or her?, when the gender is inclusive or uncertain." ( , s.v., "their" -- but you must subscribe, or be affiliated with an institutional subscriber).

Since the gender of your parent is uncertain (could be either, no?), "their" is eminently suitable.

And "fur.nuh.chur" is exactly how I pronounce "furniture."

: We're licensed to be pedantic on this board, I think, so here goes. Someone posted the link to Word Spy yesterday. I immediately was impressed by the site and joined the emailing list. Just now, however, I've come to take a closer look at the phonetics of the site. I became suspicious when I saw 'furniture' rendered 'fur.nuh.chur'. I thought: hey, where's the /I/? Then I checked Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary, which gives the /I/ for both British and American, cf. link below. But it gets worse: 'askable parent' is rendered 'ASK.uh.bul pair.unt'. Hilarious, right? But wait, there is more. An 'askable parent is defined as: 'A parent who is willing to answer their child's questions and who encourages their child to ask questions . . .' 'A parent . . . their child'! I know it's common; still, it's horrible. How can one trust such a site? (Seriously, I'm asking.)

: Anders