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John Cowan wrote:

> Well, where I hang out Monty is always "he" and phenny is "she", but the
> other bots are "it".  I'm still looking for an idiomatic use
> of "they" referring to a specific individual.

I essentially agree with Pullum's take on this, described at:
http://www.abc.net.au/rn/arts/ling/stories/s546929.htm
with additional if's and but's mentioned elsewhere.

To quote the talk in part:

    Suppose you know someone called Chris was around earlier, and you
    have no idea whether it was a Christine or a Christopher, but
    Chris did leave a signed note saying,

    'I'll be back.'

    You would never say, 'Chris says they'll be back.' Why not?
    Because this uses 'they' as a referring pronoun, referring to
    Chris, and you can't use 'they' as a singular referring pronoun in
    English. Not even if you don't know Chris's gender. Here you'd be
    forced to say 'Chris says he or she will be back', even if it is
    clumsy.

To add an ammendment of my own:

There are, of course, plenty of non-clumsy alternatives to "Chris says
he or she will be back", in particular "A visitor whose name is Chris
says they'll be back" and variations on this approach. But the point
is taken.

Adrian.

(who heard several of the talks at
http://people.ucsc.edu/~pullum/radiotalks.html at the time of their
original transmission.).