Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Reading an old post over at The Pervocracy and Holly made some interesting points about something I've gotten chastised for in theatre before.

She says:
"An important concept here, one that Cosmo doesn't seem to get: Rowdy is "my" boyfriend only in the sense that I work at "my" hospital. The word "my" here indicates "relates to me" not "belongs to me." Deciding to date me means that we'll date, not I've been granted some sort of privileges over you. We're still two people."

I once had a lighting designer friend who got chastised by the chair of our department for using the word "my".  The conversation went something like this:

Me: So how's the light hang going?
Him: I've got most of my instruments [lighting people are pretentious and refer to lights as "instruments"] up in the air.
Chair (overhearing): Those lights do not belong to you, they belong.  This seems to be an misunderstanding that a lot of people make.  It's a harmful assumption and I think it is degrading to hear people refer to 'my actors' or 'my technicians'.

What my friend meant wasn't that he owned the lighting instruments (I'm pretentious too), but that he was currently using for a show that he was working on in a major capacity.

I have heard multiple stage managers lecture on this topic.  Using the word "my" to refer the show you're working (in any possible way) is degrading to the people involved and potentially disrespectful, etc, etc.  And, the thing is, I mostly agree with what they have to say, but "my" is a phrase I use frequently in regard to my work and I'm not willing to work extremely hard to avoid using a phrase that the vast majority of people don't get offended by.


  1. Slightly related, but my parents totally used to crack down on us when we said, "My car", because we didn't buy the car, they did, and they thought that we were somehow confused about that fact (or would become confused if they allowed us to keep saying, "My car" uncorrected).

    Until they eventually gave in, we took to specifying, "The car that I drive the most often, but which I did not pay for and which does not belong to me." It's certainly more correct, but the statement loses a lot in brevity for the little it gains in accuracy, and I don't think we were ever in danger of forgetting who actually owned the car.


  2. Liam: What you said is totally related. It's just something I've never understood people getting upset about. Mine can mean "it belongs to me" but it just as often can mean "something I use or interact with frequently". It's just another case of English being very imprecise.