Sunday, 1 April 2012

Handsome girls and women, Gay is happy and Singular they!


I am very often looked down upon for following three English usages.It's because most of my interlocutors think them totally wrong ( very few of them consider antiquated.) I have very often taken pain in explaining about these usages, but somehow the resistance against them persists.




1. Handsome girls and women:


I have quite liberally used 'handsome' for girls and women. I sometimes had difficulty in bringing up passages from old fiction authors but there are plenty and I think you can Google some of them out. The creator of Sherlock Holmes has also used handsome for women and girls in his works. I don't have to wait long before I get frowned looks by people around me, when I use it in conversation.




2. Gay is happy:


I started using 'gay' for 'happy', when I started trying my hand at English poetry in my college days. I had seen Wordsworth and other poets of his era use this word for a good state of mind and I just felt free to use it that way. This habit persisted with me and since then, it has been so many times that I have surprised people around me by telling them that 'gay' is 'happy' too!




3. Singular 'They':


It's yet another difficult usage which makes people immdiately correct you, only to find that they have to get a harangue from you about its appropriateness. It happened just a week ago with me. I had to bring Wikipedia article up in order to make sure that my interlocutor did not consider me someone who was making things up just for winning an argument.