On Conflation of Grammatical Persons as a Tactic of Our Enemy

I harp from time to time on the first and crucial importance of linguistic tradition, as the indispensable foundation of almost all others. We cannot very well maintain a social order if in discussing it we have no way to be each and all clear on what it is, exactly, we are talking about.

This is no original thought. Confucius was saying the same thing 2500 years ago. And Orwell saw clearly that deforming the language would deform – and ruin – culture.

The Leftist Establishment is hard at the ruin of language, with the recent risible emphasis on pronoun protocol.

There are two sorts of linguistic development: the organic, based upon and springing from the really changing requirements of practical life (e.g., URL, computer, internet, and so forth); and the purely artificial, arising from the requirements (if that is the right word) of ideological development and elaboration (e.g., the alphabet soup of invented specious “genders”). The former evolve in response only to practical exigencies, and are construed by all as morally neutral; with the latter, it is the other way round.

The fashionable assault upon gender and number – on he, she, it, and they – is an assault upon him, her, and them: upon *every* him, *every* her, and *every* them. It is an assault upon personal and social order. It is an assault upon you.

Be therefore wary, as I try (and, too often, fail) to be, of falling into the use of the plural – they or them – in a sentence that calls for the use of the singular – of him or her.

We hear every few minutes on the radio such things as, “Your child might be suffering from x; help them …” Every such locution is an assault upon reality. It is an attack upon truth, and upon fact. It is an attack upon you, and upon your children.

Do not add your voice to that chorus, which seeks the destruction of human apprehension and approach to the real.

Distinguish person and number, in all your speech. Sure, it’s a bit harder. That’s the way reality is.

30 thoughts on “On Conflation of Grammatical Persons as a Tactic of Our Enemy

  1. The singular “their” is particularly pernicious. Unfortunately, though, we are mimetic creatures, especially in our use of language. No matter how detestable I find the practice, I also find myself, willy-nilly, adopting it in speaking. This essential mimesis makes propaganda attacks on the language all the more devastating.

    • Synesis [σύνεσις] has a long and respectable tradition in grammar and rhetoric, where a pronoun differs in number but agrees in meaning with the governing noun _ “If the group is too large, we can split them into two.”

      • @ Michael: This perplexity of usage – that it is proper to refer to a collection either with the plural or the singular – indicates a deeper ontological perplexity: is a given collective a mere assemblage, or is it an actuality in its own right? A man is a collective which is an actuality in his own right, whereas a heap is a collection that is not. But what about corporations, herds, flocks, clubs, teams, nations? An interesting question. I’m inclined to think that assemblages which act coordinately, such as schools or parishes or square dances, have all some jot of actual life, qua collective entities.

        Consider the expressions, “He is the life of the party,” and, “This party is dead.” The fact that they are intelligible might indicate that a party can be kindled into a life of its own *in ontological fact.* Or consider: the USSR is dead, but Russia is still alive, having survived the short but devastating career of its Communist parasite.

        I suppose that “If the group is too large, we can split them into two” is a contraction of “If the group is too large, we can split its members into two.” Or something. A flatworm can be split into two, and the members of both parts will then constitute two disparate entities, each with a life of its own.

    • @ PBW: Yes. The attacks are intended to eliminate the biologically given categories of sex, and thus to vitiate the processes of social and biological reproduction by confusing us about the bounds of sexual acts that are natural and proper to our nature as a species. The plural is used in place of the singular because the latter is gendered – is masculine, feminine, or neuter – and the Enemy does not want us to understand either our gender or our sex.

      We might in everyday speech bring the ultimate goal of his project into stark relief if, instead of using the third person plural in the place proper to the singular, we were instead to use the third person neuter. Compare:

      Establishment version: “Your child might be suffering from x; help them …”
      Reactionary version: “Your child might be suffering from x; help it …”

      The latter evades specification of gender, just like the former, and so is technically PC, with the bonus that it is grammatical, unlike the latter. But what is much more, it also picks out the ontological and moral consequence of confusing genders and thus sexes: human persons are rendered mere things. That cannot but weaken our scruples about destroying this or that sort of them. It is that destruction which is the ultimate goal of the Enemy.

      • “A flatworm can be split into two, and the members of both parts will then constitute two disparate entities, each with a life of its own.”

        Or monozygotic twins. Miss Anscombe famously argued that to the question, “Were you once a zygote?” that “No, I’m an identical twin” would be a meaningful answer – An interesting question of identity.

  2. “Be therefore wary, as I try (and, too often, fail) to be, of falling into the use of the third person – they or them – in a sentence that calls for the use of the first – of him or her.”

    He/him, she/her, and they/them are all third-person pronouns; I/me and we/us are the first-person pronouns. Other than that, I agree with your post.

    • D’oh! It doesn’t get much more ironic than that, no? Thanks. An apt illustration of the confusion of the wits engendered in us – in me – by our endemic tendency to mimesis of our fellows, and so of the general nomological confusion that ever surrounds us these days, noticed in PBW’s comment. I shall fix it.

  3. Be therefore wary, as I try (and, too often, fail) to be, of falling into the use of the third person – they or them – in a sentence that calls for the use of the first – of him or her.

    Both examples are third person. You mean ‘third person plural’ in the first case, ‘third person singular’ in the second.

    I agree with your point, by the way, but to stir the pot just a little, this site (https://pemberley.com/janeinfo/austheir.html) lists an impressive number of canonical writers who made use of the singular ‘they’:

    While your high-school English teacher may have told you not to use this construction, it actually dates back to at least the 14th century, and was used by the following authors (among others) in addition to Jane Austen: Geoffrey Chaucer, Edmund Spenser, William Shakespeare, the King James Bible, The Spectator, Jonathan Swift, Daniel Defoe, Frances Sheridan, Oliver Goldsmith, Henry Fielding, Maria Edgeworth, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, William Makepeace Thackeray, Sir Walter Scott, George Eliot [Mary Anne Evans], Charles Dickens, Mrs. Gaskell, Anthony Trollope, John Ruskin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Walt Whitman, George Bernard Shaw, Lewis Carroll, Oscar Wilde, Rudyard Kipling, H. G. Wells, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Edith Wharton, W. H. Auden, Lord Dunsany, George Orwell, and C. S. Lewis.

    • Let’s not forget the contributions of Twain and Tarkington!

      There is a world of difference between the innocent folky use of, say, the double negative (“I don’t know nothing about it”) – which is traditional in quite a few languages – and the tendentious purposeful twisting of language to serve an alien ideological agenda. The former sort of diction evokes, and by faithfully representing it honors, and so supports a culture; the latter saps it, and ruins it, on purpose.

      The writers cited in the post you link all wrote from within, and to carry on, the great tradition of Western Literature. They wrote as tradents, even in their innovations. The canonical writers bend grammar the way that great composers use passing dissonance.

      Our latter day linguistic ruiners do not; on the contrary. They use dissonance to sow discord. Dissonance is the whole of their project. They call it “transgression.” But really it is aggression.

      Likewise there is neology respectful of its aetymological heritage, so that it has a shot at conveying some meaning that connects with the great patrimony of human wisdom so painfully earned, and then there is neology that repudiates … well, that repudiates pretty much everything, such as we so often see in the fantastic and ugly names invented for helpless infants these last 75 years.

  4. “the use of the third person – they or them – in a sentence that calls for the use of the first – of him or her”

    All of the above pronouns are in the third person. The first person is I/me and we/us. You are talking about grammatical number (singular vs. plural), not person.

  5. Your distinction between the organic and artificial brings to mind the wonderful passage of CS Lewis from Abolition of Man:
    “A theorist about language may approach his native tongue, as it were from outside, regarding its genius as a thing that has no claim on him and advocating wholesale alterations of its idiom and spelling in the interests of commercial convenience or scientific accuracy. That is one thing. A great poet, who has ‘loved, and been well nurtured in, his mother tongue’, may also make great alterations in it, but his changes of the language are made in the spirit of the language itself: he works from within. The language which suffers, has also inspired the changes. That is a different thing — as different as the works of Shakespeare are from Basic English.”

    Changes from within what he calls the tao are healthy. But “outside the tao there is no ground for criticizing either the Tao or anything else.”

    • Changes from within what he calls the tao are healthy. But “outside the tao there is no ground for criticizing either the Tao or anything else.”

      Aye. Criticism can be intelligible only in the context of a principle of order, and thus of goodness.

      Substituting:

      A theorist about society may approach his native culture, as it were from outside, regarding its genius as a thing that has no claim on him and advocating wholesale alterations of its customs and rites in the interests of commercial convenience or scientific accuracy. That is one thing. A great patriot, who has ‘loved, and been well nurtured in, his motherland’, may also make great alterations in her, but his changes of the culture are made in the spirit of that culture herself: he works from within. The culture which suffers, has also inspired the changes. That is a different thing — as different as the works of Shakespeare are from Basic English.

  6. The Rectification of Names requires a solid axiomatic un-amenable to re-definition foundation. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the Cangue.

      • “. . . it is platform and proscenium.”

        Even Nietzsche agrees with this.

        “Every artist knows how different from the state of letting himself go, is his “most natural” condition, the free arranging, locating, disposing, and constructing in the moments of “inspiration”–and how strictly and delicately he then obeys a thousand laws, which, by their very rigidness and precision, defy all formulation by means of ideas (even the most stable idea has, in comparison therewith, something floating, manifold, and ambiguous in it). The essential thing “in heaven and in earth” is, apparently (to repeat it once more), that there should be long OBEDIENCE in the same direction, there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living; for instance, virtue, art, music, dancing, reason, spirituality– anything whatever that is transfiguring, refined, foolish, or divine. The long bondage of the spirit, the distrustful constraint in the communicability of ideas, the discipline which the thinker imposed on himself to think in accordance with the rules of a church or a court, or conformable to Aristotelian premises, the persistent spiritual will to interpret everything that happened according to a Christian scheme, and in every occurrence to rediscover and justify the Christian God:–all this violence, arbitrariness, severity, dreadfulness, and unreasonableness, has proved itself the disciplinary means whereby the European spirit has attained its strength, its remorseless curiosity and subtle mobility; granted also that much irrecoverable strength and spirit had to be stifled, suffocated, and spoilt in the process (for here, as everywhere, “nature” shows herself as she is, in all her extravagant and INDIFFERENT magnificence, which is shocking, but nevertheless noble). That for centuries European thinkers only thought in order to prove something-nowadays, on the contrary, we are suspicious of every thinker who “wishes to prove something”–that it was always settled beforehand what WAS TO BE the result of their strictest thinking, as it was perhaps in the Asiatic astrology of former times, or as it is still at the present day in the innocent, Christian-moral explanation of immediate personal events “for the glory of God,” or “for the good of the soul”:–this tyranny, this arbitrariness, this severe and magnificent stupidity, has EDUCATED the spirit; slavery, both in the coarser and the finer sense, is apparently an indispensable means even of spiritual education and discipline. One may look at every system of morals in this light: it is “nature” therein which teaches to hate the laisser-aller, the too great freedom, and implants the need for limited horizons, for immediate duties–it teaches the NARROWING OF PERSPECTIVES, and thus, in a certain sense, that stupidity is a condition of life and development. “Thou must obey some one, and for a long time; OTHERWISE thou wilt come to grief, and lose all respect for thyself”–this seems to me to be the moral imperative of nature, which is certainly neither “categorical,” as old Kant wished (consequently the “otherwise”), nor does it address itself to the individual (what does nature care for the individual!), but to nations, races, ages, and ranks; above all, however, to the animal “man” generally, to MANKIND.”

        Beyond Good and Evil, chapter 5

        Not exactly “you do you.”

      • The apotheosis and archetype of the debased sorts of slavery Nietzsche rightly deplored is just filial, feudal loyalty to the Tao, and so to GNON. His service is perfect moksha. All other lesser and thus defective sorts of service are indeed slavery, simpliciter; and damnation. The apotheosis of the slavery Nietzsche deplored is the basis and forecondition of the triumph of the Will he so cherished, which hangs upon the true liberation that can be achieved only in perfect agreement with YHWH.

  7. One recalls two remarks of Wittgenstein: The first is that “Thinking is not an incorporeal process which lends life and sense to speaking, and which it would be possible to detach from speaking, rather as the Devil took the shadow of Schlemihl from the ground.” He also asks us to try this experiment: “Say a sentence and think it; say it with understanding – Now, do not say it, just do what you accompanied it with, when you said it with understanding!”

    The second, “It is what human beings say that is true and false; and they agree in the language they use. That is not agreement in opinions but in form of life. If language is to be a means of communication there must be agreement not only in definitions but also (queer as this may sound) in judgments. This seems to abolish logic, but does not do so.— It is one thing to describe methods of measurement, and another to obtain and state results of measurement. But what we call “measuring”
    is partly determined by a certain constancy in results of measurement.”

  8. There is a simple answer to this artificial language designed to create opportunities to accuse the mentally disciplined of hate-crimes. All Indo-European languages possess a pronoun of universal applicability: The second person or, in English, “you.” To the demand made on one to address the publicly licensed neurotic using one of the newly proliferating pronouns, one has only to say, “I will speak to everyone in the classroom through the equalizing moniker of You.” English is always-already “progressive”: It has even yielded the formal-informal distinction in the second person. We no longer distinguish a “thou” from a “you.”

  9. Me, myself, personally, y’know, I feel your pain, dude. Everyone’s got their opinions. But it’s all good.

    No, no, even that is too literate. It might be spoken aloud, but never written so cogently. Written would be more like:

    y ok cool ur feelings suck it up man

  10. I find myself writing “them” and “they” and then having to go back and correct it in editing. Sometimes, it’s a week after posting that I catch it.

    • Yes, that’s the devilish bit. One simply *doesn’t notice* as one goes, and of course in proofreading one’s own stuff it is so fiendishly hard to notice anything wrong that such petty foibles can pass unnoticed for weeks.

      I go back to my Orthosphere posts of 5 years ago and recoil in horror from the errors I completely missed.

      I suppose one aspect of the genius of the great writers is an ability to step so far away from one’s just finished work – one’s ‘finished’ work, NB, ever – as to see in it all the errors, and fix them.

  11. I always wondered why, according to the Feelings Brigade we should be required to learn and recall a preferred 3rd person pronoun to refer to someone, where the given name (I dare not use “Christian”), or the second-person pronoun in direct speech with the person present (“you”), are already perfectly apt. It was already considered rude to refer to someone, say a woman, as “she” in her presence (“who is she that you’re talking about, the cat’s mother?” as I would be chided). And one couldn’t hurt anybody’s feelings if the person spoken of using the “incorrect” 3rd person pronoun is not present to hear it.

    It strikes me therefore as particularly odd, and here at this point particularly totalitarian, to insist that the speech of someone, when they would be speaking *of* me to another and not in my presence, should be regulated by my preferred 3rd person pronoun (“How dare you talk about me to him, er… to that person with a penis… as if I were a merely “he”!). The claim that in doing so I am somehow being violated is no less specious than the more general claim that words, even in my presence, are violence or can “cause harm.” The only thing causing harm here is the weak head of the hearer. Sticks and stones.

    So the current problem in fact – surprise surprise – seems likely to derive from a lecture-type situation, where, for example, a professor is required to refer back to some earlier question or point made by someone whose identity is not known, in his increasingly large audience. This new speech code is both a rebellion against order, and one against anonymity.

    The purpose of all this rebellion in spirit, it seems to me, is not to effect the outcome of “correct speech,” but, being a novel form of vanity, egotism and self-idolatry, to lodge oneself in the super-ego of another in order to better become like a god.

    • The main motive of the votaries of the Establishment Narrative is to avoid being spotted as an odd fellow, and thus singled out for ostracism as a scapegoat, an insult and pollution to the received mythos of the polis. So they try to conform as hard and as well as they can, in all things. That entails their ardent agreement with the Establishment Mandate that all odd fellows ought to be purged.

      When the green grocers who won’t set a Party placard in their shop windows, the nurses and soldiers who refuse to be vaccinated, and the Christians who fail to offer up a pinch of incense or a pound of flesh on the altar of the Party have all been eliminated, the nomenklatura will then need to find new scapegoats in order to keep the Potemkin charade going (so as to maintain their own privileges), whose oddness will naturally be more and more obscure and hard to detect, as immaculate outward conformity becomes crucially necessary to daily survival. That’s when the real Terror will start; when wives betray husbands who are in fact wholly innocent of any political incorrectness, just to avoid being themselves betrayed by likewise fearful husbands.

      That Terror makes every man a tyrant, for it gives him both power of life and death over his fellows, and good reason to use it. So, yes: the whole thing is a grab at godlike power.

      Nietzsche predicted all of this.

  12. ““Your child might be suffering from x; help them …””.

    I think the solution to that issue would be to say “your children might be suffering from x; help them”. That would be my take as a person who has spanish as native language.

    I was meditating this morning on the tribulations that may come upon us christians in a short future. These things came to my mind:
    1. the use of inclusive language is a sign of mental insanity. I do not talk about the person who is illiterate/ignorant in a foreign language and does not know how to express himself. I talk about native speakers of any language who willingly embrace inclusive language. When someone pretends to eliminate the difference between man and woman through language, that person tries to redefine reality. Because reality cannot be redefined, the intellect of the person loses contact with it; and the disconnection between the intellect and reality is defined as “mental insanity”. This is why I say that people who use inclusive language in a deliberate fashion are either mentally insane or in the process of becoming.
    2. I have seen this in spanish-speaking countries (I come from Argentina), and several european countries, we should not be surprised about the deformation of language. For decades the world has been building a modern Tower of Babel, this is particularly evident in wealthy nations along the western hemisphere. The blind faith in science, the notion that progress is being made in all areas of knowledge, the idea that is possible to turn this valley of tears into a paradise while leaving God outside, and the creation of international institutions (NGOs) which tell people how to live their lives and what to do in case of a FLANdemic, are clear signs that there is a Babel tower in the making. We know how the story of Babel ends, why should be different in our time? I say that the attempts to cram inclusive language down our throats are only going to increase in strength and number; partly because the brains financing it (the Soros, the Gates, the Rockefellers, the Bilderbergs, and so on) are already mentally insane and completely bonkers, and partly because the intellects of the vast majority of society has been darkened by sin.
    3. there is a saying: “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad”. We know through King David and Saint Paul that “all the gods of the gentiles are demons”. Then it becomes pretty clear that “those whom the demons wish to destroy they first make mad”. Many of the brains financing and/or pushing this inclusive language nonsense are freemasons (satanists) consecrated to the evil one. And most of society who does not partake in any lodge and/or satanic cult is living in mortal sin because they reject God either willingly or unwillingly by ignorance, thus being deprived of the spiritual protection that ONLY the catholic faith provides. Those who lack protection from Our Lord are easy targets for the demons, who are already starting to drive them mad.

    • Thanks, APC. Your solution is another good one. To your other points:

      1. The use of inclusive language is a sign of insanity: yes. When people consciously agree that it makes good sense, mutatis mutandis, to call deer horses, they intentionally choose insanity.

      2. [There are] clear signs that there is a Babel Tower in the making: yes. The globalists are quite open about it. They want everyone to speak the same language, be the same color, worship the same god, eat the same 4 kinds of corporate burgers, shop at the same 23 outlets, and so forth. “Mass customization” is one of their euphemisms for the notion. Everything will be tailored just for you, so long as you go along with the Program, and so want the same things as everyone else.

      3. Those who lack protection from Our Lord are easy targets for the demons: yes, to be sure. But then, anyone who sins vitiates his allegiance to the Lord, and so saps the spiritual defenses God provides to all men. Those who repudiate the Lord are effectually lost already, so the demons are not so much interested in corrupting them as they are in ruining saints. The saints are harder targets, but much more valuable. So it rather evens out.

  13. I entered the realm of personal pronouns when my boss told me a new coworker, whom we’d both known when she was merely a lesbian, had become a transman and that I was to refer to her as “him.” My boss, long a loud advocate of “consensus decision-making” took one look at my appalled expression and informed me “there will be no discussion of this.”

    I cried when the vagina-haver had her breasts cut off, but I had to do it in secret….

    In the ensuing years, my boss has from time to time enjoyed spurts of being really emphatic about all this. Lately I’ve noticed that she’s referring to everyone, of all genders, preferred pronouns, singular, plural, you name it as “they” and “them.” Trying to understand instructions given by such a possessed person can get extremely confusing and tiresome. She’s descending into a madness like the madness of the people in That Hideous Strength. I wonder how much longer she’ll make any sense at all. I wonder if I should file a formal grievance if I can catch her referring to me as “they”?

  14. Just today I have a colleague asking why “they” was corrected on a document since it is more inclusive and “they has been used this way for hundreds of years.” A new angle.

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