I often find myself trying to explain why linguistic fine points -- like using "they" as a singular pronoun -- matter. I don't believe it's just a question of snob appeal. The latest explanatory term I've latched onto is "cultural signifier." It's a bit too ivory-tower for my taste, but I don't know a better one. The idea is that the linguistic fine points we pay attention to -- the accent we have, the vocabulary we use, the knowledge of traditional grammar we exhibit -- say something about us. They hint at both the culture we come from and our place in that culture, and there's no getting away from this.
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