Reflecting on the reflexive pronoun ‘themself’

Sentence first

Singular they has featured a few times in the lingua-blog world of late, with Motivated Grammar noting its antiquity and Language Hat linking to Language Hippie’s sensible defence of it. On a tangent to this issue, I want to look at the lesser known themself, the status of which I’ve been musing and tweeting about recently:

Gill Francis at Macmillan Dictionary Blog posed the question: Is there a case for the pronoun themself? The example she leads with, from a Bristol City Council leaflet, is a good illustration of the gap in standard English which themself would naturally fill. But because the word isn’t standard, people often avoid it. Or it doesn’t occur to them, or it’s strange and they’re unsure if…

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