22.8.13

Pronoun Drift (quietly opens can of worms)

One of the most popular posts on this blog was not about me wittering on about music or children but English usage. Although I'm an Engligh teacher by training, have discussions in the (so called) real world about punctuation and grammar and spent happy years at university (in my thirties) studying and playing with English, I rarely blog about it. Perhaps if I did I'd get more hits. Maybe some proofreading might help too.

Anyway, last night, in a burst of self-righteousness, I diagnosed a close friend as suffering from 'Pronoun Drift'. Here's an example:

"He came back to work and then he asked about holidays." Nothing wrong on the surface, but the speaker was refering to two different people. 'He' 1 and 'He' 2. The pronoun's use as a label was being undermined by this, causing confusion.

The speaker is a bright, intelligent person but has mentioned that sometimes people are confused when he is explained things. Being a good friend, but not wanting to come across as a smart-arse, it took me years to suggest they had Pronoun Drift.

The real probelm though is that Pronoun Drift doesn't exist. I made the term up.

If anyone has a better name for it, or has any stories relating to Pronoun Drift, I'd love to hear from you. Please remember that Pronoun Drift  is only a problem if you're a pedantic nerd like me or if they tell you they have an issue with him using it like they do.

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