Finally, the gender-neutral singular pronoun “they” has been recognized and endorsed by the academic American Dialect Society.
BOOM! In your face, grammar purists!
To everyone who refuses to acknowledge this pronoun — which many transgender, genderqueer and nonbinary folks identify themselves with — because it defies “classic” rules made mostly by rich old white men: #sorrynotsorry. Hey, language evolves. #sorrynotsorry
“We know about singular ‘they’ already — we use it every day without thinking about it, so this is bringing it to the fore in a more conscious way, and also playing into emerging ideas about gender identity,” said linguist Ben Zimmer, language columnist for the Wall Street Journal. Zimmer led the American Dialect Society’s vote, which chose “they” as word of the year.
“It encapsulates different trends that are going on in the language,” he says. “It’s a way of identifying something that’s going on in the language which ties to issues of gender identity and speaks to other ways that people are using language to express themselves and present their identity.”
“We’re ultimately looking for words that say something about the way we’re living now, about the way we use words to express our shared experiences,” said Zimmer.
Other options were more AAVE-appropriative phrases like “YAS!” “on fleek” and “shade,” along with phrases like “dadbod,” “af,” “Netflix and chill” and jargon like “sharewashing.” We’re grateful to see further recognition of “they” within mainstream language.