Why, just last week, I was muttering to a co-worker that the use of "they" and "their" with a singular antecedent would someday, decades hence, be totally kosher. (That is, saying something like, "Whoever swiped my stapler better show their
face"—rather than "show his or her
face.") I guess I'd assumed the construction was relatively new. But it's not! Turns out, both Shakespeare
and Jane Austen
were quite fond of it. And hey, if it's good enough for those crazy kids...
Both links come via Geoffrey Pullum's vivisection
of a recent David Gerlenter essay in The Weekly Standard
, which had argued that the singular "they" was foisted upon us by 1970s-vintage feminists intent on castrating the English language. Whatever; here's an image: