[tex-k] bug in The TeXbook

Jonathan Kew jfkthame at gmail.com
Mon Jan 11 11:20:08 CET 2021

On 11/01/2021 03:43, 胡亚捷 (Hu Yajie) wrote:
> I wonder if it is too late to send this bug report: Page A350, line 30
> uses "he" to refer to "someone", which of source excludes women and
> nonbinary people.

No, it doesn't. Knuth is writing in English. Longstanding English usage 
supports the use of "he" as to refer to a person of undetermined gender. 
See sense 2(b) in the Oxford English Dictionary 

 > 2. b. In anaphoric reference to a singular noun or pronoun of 
undetermined gender. Cf. they pron. 2.

The OED quotations illustrating this usage range from pre-1200 AD Old 
English to 21st-century media.

It's true that in recent years some people have chosen to take offense 
at this usage, and the use of "they" for a singular antecedent is widely 
promoted as an alternative (and also has longstanding historical 
support, with quotations dating back to the 15th century: 

Still, the use of "he" to refer to a generic individual "someone" of 
unknown/unspecified gender, is not a "bug" by any reasonable standard of 
established English usage.


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