Singular Pronoun 'They' Voted 'Word Of The Decade' By Linguistic Experts In US

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'They' has been voted as 'Word of the decade' by US linguists. Other words in the competition were, 'meme', 'climate', '#MeeToo' and 'BlackLivesMatter'.

Written By Riya Baibhawi | Mumbai | Updated On:

US language experts have voted the pronoun,‘They’ as the word of the decade. The other words in the competition were ‘Climate’ and ‘meme.’ US linguists have chosen it, recognising the increasing use of the third person plural pronoun as a singular form to refer to the Queer community and people who do not completely identify themselves as either male or female.

Decided by 350 member society

The award was decided on Friday in New Orleans by about 350 member society in its annual meeting of academics, graduate students and word lovers. Ben Zimmer, a linguist and lexicographer who chairs the group’s new words committee said the members voted by a show of hands. The neutral pronoun was earlier voted as the word of the year in 2015 as well.

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The other nominee in the contest was the hashtag“#Blacklivesmatter” which is an online movement used to protest against alleged discrimination in the use of force by the US Police on the American African people. Other words in the contest were ‘Climate’ which reflected the rising interest of people on the issue of climate change. 

‘#MeeToo' was another famous entry that made its way to the list. The movement highlighted the widespread patterns of sexual abuse and harassment that women have faced at the hands of men across many spheres of life, including business, politics and entertainment, and eventually gained overwhelming traction across the world.

Read: Nonbinary Pronoun 'they' Named As Merriam-Webster Dictionary's Word Of The Year

The nonbinary pronoun 'they' was also reportedly named the word of the year by Merriam-Webster dictionary because of its growing usage for non-binary individuals. According to international media reports the American English dictionary revealed that searches for the term have risen by 313 per cent in the last year.

It further also added that the definition of 'they' was added to the three other separate definitions of the word in September. The pronoun has also beaten other contenders for the word of the yar including the phrase 'quid pro quo'.

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While talking to an international media outlet, a spokesperson from Merriam-Webster said, English famously lacks a gender-neutral singular pronoun to correspond neatly with singular pronouns like 'everyone' or 'someone', and as a consequence 'they' have been used for this purpose for over 600-years.

The spokesperson further added that more recently 'they' has also been used to refer to one person whose gender identity is non-binary, a sense that is increasingly common in published, edited text, as well as social media and in daily personal interactions between English speakers.

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