Sent: Sunday, November 25, 2018 2:08 PM
Subject: Disparaging Somebody etc.
I am reluctant to write as I really appreciate your intelligence and insight, and I have learned so much from your essays that don’t wish to appear ungrateful; however, I want to comment on your English grammar pronouncement.
Specifically, your admonition to your correspondent to reword the phrase “disparaging somebody on the basis of their skin color, sexual orientation, gender identity” to avoid singular they is not a matter of grammar.
The linguists at U Penn and their colleagues have an internet site known as Language Log, http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/. In their post in early 2006, they recognize a long history of singular they in modern English beginning with Shakespeare and defend its common use as grammatically correct. (http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002748.html). This post was written by Geoff Pullum who also co-authored The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language: I consider Prof. Pullum to be as important an authority on grammar as I consider you to be in the area of libertarian thought
We are all free to disparage uses we find offensive as a matter of style. I, myself, have a set of peeves that may or may not match yours. I hope you might in the future distinguish between matters of style or diction and matters of grammar in your published preferences.
With respect, D
Dear D: Thanks for your very, very kind words. However, I must reject your incisive, well-thought out criticism. You, and Pullum might well be correct as a matter of pure grammar; I have no dog in that fight. However, what you don’t take into account is that we are now in a war of words with the Politically Correct. One of their initiatives is to rid our language of the singular masculine pronoun, “he.” This abuse of the singular and plural matching rule is part and parcel of their armament, weaponry.
I think language is important. We Austro-libertarians have a comparative advantage in language, in this war against PC. They are continually trying to take language away from us, attempting to get us to speak in the manner they feel comfortable with. In my view, we should do all we can to fight them on this matter. To me, it is unimportant that they may have hit upon something grammatically correct in their fight against us. I still think it behooves us to reject their initiatives, even if they are justified by grammar. Grammar Schmammar! This is War! (A war of words, of course).
I’ve written a little bit about this:
Block, Walter E. 2010. “Say ‘Yes’ to ‘Capitalism’: Is ‘Capitalism’ Politically Incorrect?
Yes, and so what?.” March 20; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block153.html
Rejoinders: http://news.infoshop.org/article.php?story=2010block-lac; http://www.facebook.com/notes/sheldon-richman/block-says-yes-to-capitalism/10150161323555711
Block, Walter E. and Jackson Reeves. 2010. “’Capitalism’ Yesterday, ‘Capitalism’ Today, ‘Capitalism’ Tomorrow, ‘Capitalism’ Forever.” March 26; https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block154.html
Block, Walter E. 2006. “Saving Language” December 21.
https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block69.html (liberal, socialism, social justice, red, environmentalism, feminism, gay, positive rights, diversity, environmental justice)
Block, Walter E. 5/28/05. “Continuing to watch our language.”
Opportunistic, red states blue states, liberal, libertarian
Block, Walter E. 1/26/04. “Social Justice.” https://archive.lewrockwell.com/block/block37.html
Block, Walter E. 1/23/04. “Social justice hinders curriculum.” Loyola University New Orleans The Maroon. p. 7. http://maroon.loyno.edu/news/2004/01/23/Editorial/Social.Justice.Hinders.Curriculum-586701.shtml
Block, Walter E. 2000. “Word Watch,” April 20; http://www.mises.org/fullstory.asp?control=414&FS=Word+Watch “stakeholder, get something for nothing, free rider”
Block, Walter E. 2000. “Taking back the language,” April 1; http://www.mises.org/fullarticle.asp?control=406&month=19&title=Taking+Back+the+Language&id=19 “filthy rich, privileged, unearned income, freeman, ultra, eer, book burning”
Block, Walter E. 2000. “Watch Your Language,” February 21; http://www.mises.org/fullarticle.asp?control=385&month=17&title=Watch+Your+Language&id=19; http://mises.org/daily/385; “ms., developing countries, rent seeking, social justice, tax subsidies, property rights (Bethell), Cuban boy.”
Block, Walter E. 2000A. “Watch Your Language,” February 21; http://www.mises.org/fullarticle.asp?control=385&month=17&title=Watch+Your+Language&id=19; http://mises.org/daily/385
Block, Walter. 2000B. “Word Watch,” April 20; http://www.mises.org/fullstory.asp?control=414&FS=Word+Watch; accessed on 4-23-16
Block, Walter E. 2002. “All Government is Excessive: A Rejoinder to ‘In Defense of Excessive Government’ by Dwight Lee,” Journal of Libertarian Studies, Vol. 16, No. 3, pp. 35-82. http://www.mises.org/journals/jls/16_3/16_3_3.pdf; rent seeking, market failure
Block, Walter E. 2015. “The rent seeker.” Romanian Economic and Business Review, Vol. 10, No. 3, pp. 7-14, Fall; http://www.rebe.rau.ro/REBE_10_3_2015.pdf5:45 pm on November 25, 2018 Email Walter E. Block