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A bystander videotaped the police beating using their cell phone.
linked to #800206
  • ondo
  • 2011-03-20 17:46
linked to #801084
linked to #2242967
linked to #3876589

Sentence #752985

eng
A bystander videotaped the police beating using their cell phone.
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epo
Ekstera ĉeestanto filmis per sia poŝtelefono la polican batadon.
fra
Un passant a filmé la brutalité policière à l'aide de son téléphone portable.
spa
Un viandante grabó en vídeo con un teléfono móvil la paliza de la policía.
swe
En förbipasserande filmade polisens våld med sin mobiltelefon.
deu
Ein unbeteiligter Zeuge filmte mit seinem Mobiltelefon die prügelnden Polizisten.

Comments

sacredceltic
2011-03-20 01:04
using "HIS/HER cellphone" ?
Zifre
2011-03-20 01:08
People sometimes say things like this when the gender is unknown. But this is one of those cases where it actually sounds a bit strange to me.

I think that, if I didn't know the gender in this case, I would just say "a cell phone".
sacredceltic
2011-03-20 01:14
I know they do, however, I suggest this should be tagged as "popular" english or something, because it is grammatically incorrect.
Zifre
2011-03-20 01:20
Nope. People have been doing this for centuries. English is a language that is defined by what people speak. There is no "authority" like with French and some other languages. So if everyone says it, it is correct.

The only reason this is considered "incorrect" (and certainly not grammatically, as it could refer to a different "they" in context) is because some prescriptivists decided they didn't like it...
sacredceltic
2011-03-20 01:35
>English is a language that is defined by what people speak.

Yes it is very much and I'll remind you so in due time...
darinmex
2011-03-20 16:56
In this sentence "his or her" would sound stange to me. Because of the problems of gender in the English language the use of "their" when the gender is unknown is common, though, as Sacredceltic points out, grammatically incorrect. I'll put a "non-standard grammar" tag on this one.
sacredceltic
2011-03-20 17:07
thank you...
Zifre
2011-03-20 17:09
> grammatically incorrect.

[citation needed]

Most style guides I have seen take an officially neutral position on this debate. And English is based on consensus, not voting or authority.
Zifre
2011-03-20 17:19
Also, as I tried to say before, this is definitely not grammatically incorrect. However, it *can* be semantically incorrect, if you start with the assumptions that "their" refers to the bystander, and that "they" can't be singular.