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Word Spy's phonetics - and grammar

Posted by Anders on November 01, 2003

In Reply to: Word Spy's phonetics - and grammar posted by Frenk 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

Hi Frank
What? You want me to PAY for such advice! Only when dealing with a self-impregnating hermaphrodite of a parent, with a personality disorder, is such usage acceptable.