Call me anal, but…

So I went by my mailbox this afternoon and found an envelope from Writers of the Future. It was my Honorable Mention certificate!  Cool!

Now, I have no idea what percentage of entrants get Honorable Mentions, Silver Honorables, and the rest.  But I know there are only three winners each quarter out of…eight?…finalists.  And I suspect they get several thousand submissions.  So I’m going to go out on a limb and think that Honorable Mention ain’t half bad, especially for my first entry.  Hey, it’s not a flat-out rejection, so I’ll take it.  🙂

Anyway, here’s the certificate:

Honorable Mention Certificate for Passing in the Night

Pretty nice, huh?  That was my first thought, too.  Then I looked at it more closely, and I had to do a facepalm.  Let’s read, shall we?

The L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest does hereby certify that Michael Kingswood is awarded the certificate of Honorable Mention for their story Passing in the Night

Did you catch that?  Michael Kingswood is awarded…for their story…

Oy.  Ok, I realize there are no gender neutral pronouns in English, and it would be a lot more pricey to do gender-specific printing for each person who gets an Honorable Mention or better.  But really?  This is a prestigious writing contest, and they screwed up singular and plural on the award certificate.  If it was me, I’d have said <insert name here> is awarded the certificate of <insert level here> for the story <insert story name here>, and saved the trouble.  I know, this really doesn’t matter, and I don’t have much standing to get all nit-picky and anal about this.  But hang it all, I’m an Engineer and a Navy nuke.  I am nit-picky and anal.  I tend to notice these sorts of things, and they irk me.

Now don’t get me wrong.  I have the utmost respect for this contest, the people who run it, and the people who judge it.  Getting even a bit of recognition from them is very flattering.  This certificate’s getting framed and hung on my “I Love Me Wall” alongside my other cherished records of earlier accomplishments.  It just struck me as a bit odd, that’s all.

But like I said, it doesn’t matter.


0 thoughts on “Call me anal, but…”

  1. Hi. I wouldn’t call you that word, but you might be wrong on this.

    The usage of “they” and “their” in singular is called generic form. You will find it in various articles about grammar on the internet or books. There are debates on this usage, but I consider it a form to mention someone in a formal way.

    Take “you” for example, in English there is no plural for it, as in other languages e.g. French “vous” when you talk formally to a person and not intimately.
    For this reason, to distinguish between a formal and intimate address about a person, there is a generic form of pronouns (as “they” and “theirs”).

    Due to the type of document, (it is an award), my opinion is that it is nicer and more correct to have written “their” instead of “his”. Old school, but more formal. Debatable yes, but for many it is correct. In my opinion, it is better this way on such a document.

    You can read this on wikipedia as a start and if you want search more about this form in books and on the internet >


    1. Oh, I understand why it’s sometimes used that way. And yeah, I’ve seen it used that way in other places as well. I still cringe every time I see it. It just seems…clunky. It’s probably just me.

  2. While the above answer is informative, I’ll link you to a fun article – it’s about donkey pronouns XD

    It says basically the same thing, except it states a little more clearly that using “their” in that instance isn’t incorrect. Also, I thought it would go along nicely with the title of your post, seeing as how they are called DONKEY pronouns. 🙂

    Cheers, and congratulations on the award!

    YA: Cheat, Liar, Coward, Thief, Thug
    Adult: Shackled

  3. Well, that’s 2 for 2 who think I’m AFU over this. So I guess I’ll concede my error, slink back into the corner, and put my cap back on.

    What can I say? I’m an Engineer, not an English major. It reads awkward to me, but I guess that’s ok.


    Oh well, no worries.

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