Jumping to assumptions higher than a wide receiver.
I like watching professional football. (Yes, I know it’s problematic. But old habits die hard.)
I’m not invested in the game like some men. (Talk about emotional creatures.)
I tune in for the commentary.
While witnessing the Giants failed comeback 2 Sundays ago, the quarterback was forced to run the ball himself. He got clobbered by two of the Bears defensive players. This double-whammy hit resulted in a penalty.
One of the commentators said, “his linemen should’ve been there to defend his honor.”
As soon as I heard that, this chiseled piece of man meat turned into a sweat-soaked, messy-haired princess.
His burly linemen turned into a flustered king drawing his sword.
And those defensive players turned into a stable boy running for his life while trying to pull up his pants.
With one comment that inferred linemen should protect their quarterback, I created a whole story in my mind filled with stereotypes and misinformation.
I jumped to assumptions higher than Plaxico Burress leaped to catch the game-winning touchdown during the 2008 Super Bowl. (Too long ago to use as a reference? No, I just remember unimportant information.)
No one should jump to assumptions when it comes to copywriting. But in the 18th century, the logicians of English grammar did.
They randomly decided that singular masculine pronouns should always be used in indefinite expressions: “Will everyone remove his hat?”
Care to guess how this came about? (Hint – they were all men.)
You should chuck this outdated grammar rule in the fuck-it-bucket after writing your copy.
First, the notion of gender has evolved (just like grammar). In an effort to be inclusive, never assign a label unless you definitely know someone’s gender.
Second, using “he or she” and “his and her” is awkward phrasing in advertising copy. Even Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage concedes:
“The plural pronoun is one solution devised by native speakers of English to a grammatical problem inherent in that language – and it is by no means the worst solution.”
And using a plural pronoun like they/their in an ad campaign can be wildly successful.
For example – Honda Civic’s, “To each their own.”
Honda Civic buyers didn’t care about the grammar rules.
In fact, the company’s profit margin increased from 2.98% in March 2012 to 3.62% in September 2012 – the same time the campaign ran.
So clearly the “grammar mistake” didn’t affect the bottom line. Probably because nobody on the planet gives a crap about whether this is grammatically correct. “But are they following the rules of the English language?” is rarely a question a prospect asks before buying a car.
What grammar rules do you break like the confidence of a new quarterback getting tackled?