2004
Volume 25, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN: 1384-5845
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1171

Abstract

Abstract

The personal pronoun ‘them’ meets a lot of criticism in Dutch society, not just from language purists, but from language users in general. This can be attributed to a strong mistrust of the pronoun, given that it is well-known for violating no less than two prescriptive rules, one of which prohibits its use as a subject, and the other its use as a direct object or complement of a preposition. This has resulted in a tendency to avoid the use of this personal pronoun across the board. Despite the fact that ‘them’ as a personal pronoun has the advantage of exclusively referring to animate or even human individuals, I argue that it is fighting a losing battle with the other personal pronouns that are used to express third person plural. I conclude that it will withdraw from the competition in order to commit itself entirely to its function as a possessive pronoun ‘their’, in which capacity it is unique.

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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): grammatical function; personal pronoun; possessive pronoun; prescriptive rules
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