Sunday, December 24, 2006

You (pl), update

In a recent post, I noted that Stephen Colbert had joked about the ambiguity of Time magazine's decision to make you their Person of the Year. Now, Dennis Baron of the Web of Language has a fairly detailed post on second person plural pronouns in American English, including a little historical and comparative background, here.

What's hilarious is that he links to a blogger who berates Time for Colbert's point, apparently not tongue in cheek:
I am doubtful that such a subtle distinction of grammar held very much interest for the editors of that september publication.

It seems far more likely that they simply "copped out" and decided that, like the Democratic Party, they would refuse to be held accountable for having any particular position on any particular subject.
That seems highly unlikely to me, given the amount of hype that Time puts into this matter every year. Besides the points Baron makes, I hinted earlier that they could easily have made it People of the Year this time around. (Hey, it used to be Man of the Year.)

PS: If you read that full blog post, note the low quality of the argument -- pretty ironic for something posted on a site labeled "A sinister cabal of superior writers".

Update, Dec. 24, 10:16: What the heck does the adjective 'september' mean there? Doesn't appear in OED Online or other paper or online sources.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm stumped on 'september'. Could it be an adjective backformed from 'Septembrist'? Hard to see the meaning applying to (the editors of) Time, but with that blogger's politics, who knows, Maybe he's overreaching -- trying to be fancy and obscure. Bad combination for a guy who sounds like he banged his head hard on every branch as he fell from the top of the stupid tree.