It was good enough for Shakespeare, and it's good enough for me.
All the alternatives have worse disadvantages:
- repeating the name "Matt" is awkward
- gender is an awkward requirement for sending a giftcard
- assuming someone is male unless they are known to be female is awkward
- "he/she" is awkward
- singular they is widely used and understood and has significant historical precedent https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they
> Matt Hofstadt wanted to make your day, and has sent you a $20 gift card...
The OP suggests guessing gender from names. There are too many unusual cases and gender-neutral names to be able to guess gender from a name alone. Even ignoring non-english-speaking world, I know several guys named "Kelly" and "Kim" and I have a female cousin named "James" (she goes by "Jill", though).
Adding a gender field is often not feasible and a bad idea for other reasons (gender identity, etc). It's far better to sidestep the issue with commonly-used-but-not-quite-formally-correct grammar, i.m.o.
Wasn’t that easy?
So now you either need to ask a user for their name and preferred pronoun, or just refer to them as "they".
Using the singular-they seems to be completely acceptable and preferable to the alternatives provided by the author.
"In a case like the generic email I got from Starbucks where the gender of the purchaser is likely unknown, the solution is even easier. Try this little programmatic trick:
[$first_name] [$last_name] wanted to make your day so [$first_name] sent you a $20.00 USD Starbucks Card eGift to spend on your favorite beverage."
Also, what is "especially in Starbucks' home town" supposed to mean?
"John Smith wanted to make your day so John sent you a gift card."
That is not even remotely elegant.
Honestly, I'm surprised that:
a) He's writing this opinionated a post just to provide a solution which is that horrible.
b) He teaches English at UMCP. Pronouns in language are a difficult problem to solve at the best of times, and someone who proposes this sort of a 'bulletproof' solution of "Well, just Replace It with a Noun when you're confused!" worries me as an English professor.
It's not rocket surgery.
Seattle has a relatively large genderqueer population.
That's entirely and entirely typically wrong. Singular "they" has been well-established in English for centuries. The great writers have always used it freely—that includes Chaucer, Shakespeare, Jane Austen, Dickens, Oscar Wilde, and seemingly everybody else. "A person can't help their birth," says Becky Sharp in Vanity Fair. (Edit: it's fun to dig up these classical examples, because they sound so modern and fresh. "Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes"—Wilde. "It's enough to drive anyone out of their senses"—Shaw. "Everybody does and says what they please"—Byron.)
The ironic thing is that the "rule" about generic "he" (and later, "he or she" and all the other stilted variants) was fabricated by grammarians who looked at how English actually worked, said "Goodness no that can't be right because Latin doesn't do that", and started telling everybody their grammar was wrong.
(Notice how I just used singular "they". Should I have said, "telling everybody his grammar was wrong"? Or "his or her", or "his/er", or just "her", if you're one of those? Or, to adapt the OP's suggestion, "telling everybody everybody's grammar was wrong"?)
People never stopped using it, though, and by 1850 the grammarians were so indignant about this that they petitioned the British Parliament to make "he" the legal standard. And people kept on using "they", because it works.
Edit: There are so many sources on this that you can't kick Google without stirring some up, but http://motivatedgrammar.wordpress.com/2009/09/10/singular-th... and http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/sgtheirl.html are particularly good and http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/002748.h... is hilarious.
"Matt Hofstadt wanted to make your day by sending you..."
Gender neutral pronouns: they're here to stay.
printf("%d %s in your cart",x,(x==1) ? "item" : "items");
Redeeming your eGift couldn't be easier. All you need to do is:
1. Redeem your eGift
Also, while I haven't stepped through Starbucks' gifting flow recently, gift cards might be given by collective entities as well, like "Your friends on the swim team" or "The Middleton Book Club".
'They' works better for that, too.
Starbucks' copywriter (or copywriters) knew what they were doing.
(Personally I think women should insist on being called "he" - "she" is a grammatical diminutive which implies inferiority - but given that they haven't, singular they is the best approach available).
No it isn't. No it doesn't! Where'd you get that from?
"$NAME wants to make your day with a $20 gift card..."
The author here is incorrect. I also dislike namedropping random startups / people I've never heard of, or actually just namedropping in general.
"Matt Hofstadt wanted to make your day by sending you a $20.00 USD Starbucks Card eGift to spend on your favorite beverage."
The structure of that sentence irrationally infuriates me. I find it so distracting that I have been unable to glean any meaning from the rest of your post. You should therefore change it.
I would love to see the author try to seriously defend that assertion.
anyway, if Aaron Dinin really wants a fix, they (!!!) should've just removed the sickening and pointless, "wanted to make your day". so:
"Matt Hofstadt sent you a $20.00 USD Starbucks Card eGift to...", blah blah blah blah blah.
The author's solution about using the first name of the person should be the standard across the board. It hurts to read these sentences as much as reading bad code.