Friday, February 09, 2007

You CAN get a job

Despite the hububhub-bub* this week about language rage at Language Log, Sally Tomlinson Tomason has stepped out to declare herself a prescriptivist (more here).

it means that some people who read what you write will judge you negatively if you use prescriptively-frowned-on things like singular they, and---all other things being equal---this could conceivably tip the balance in favor of another candidate for a job or for a place in a selective graduate program, or in favor of a competitor's product.

I don't necessarily buy the whole, "how are you going to get a job speaking like that" argument. Let's face it, grammar proficiency is a requirement for very few jobs. Yes, if you want to get a job in communications, especially as an editor, you'd better not have these kind of things on your resume. But otherwise, the chances a potential employer is going to throw out your resume because of singular they are pretty slim.
I think the reason this argument gets floated is because it comes from people who are in the types of careers where grammar is important.

*I'm not sure what was behind the hubub. I did get a call from young Eric earlier in the week. It was a little hard to understand, what with the Drone Man remix blasting in the background and his slurred speach (you know how beligerent belligerent Eric gets when he's drunk). I did manage to understand something about Pullum's new drink, El Kabong--tequila, red bull, and pop rocks. I can only speculate about the connection.


Eric said...

Dude, it's "hub-bub" and "Sally Thomason". That's it, I'm not giving you a job.

Eric said...

... he said, belligerently.

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