The singular pronoun ‘they’ has been voted 2015 word of the year by the American Dialect Society.
The 127-year-old organization said it was recognizing the pronoun’s emerging use ‘to refer to a known person, often as a conscious choice by a person rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she.’
‘In the past year, new expressions of gender identity have generated a deal of discussion, and singular they has become a particularly significant element of that conversation,’ said Ben Zimmer, chair of the society’s new words committee.
‘While many novel gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed, they has the advantage of already being part of the language.’
‘They’ won 187 of the 334 votes cast. It also won most useful word, a category that included shade – to ‘insult, criticism or disrespect, shown in a subtle or clever manner.’
In a companion vote, the American Name Society voted ‘Caitlyn Jenner’ as name of the year for 2015.
‘Caitlyn Jenner is an example of how people in modern times are asserting their own identities by choosing their own names,’ said Iman Nick, president of ANS.
‘Many cultures have allowed people to choose their own names after important life changes, and this right is being revived today in a positive ways by those like Caitlyn Jenner.’