Neutral pronoun ‘they’ voted Word of the Decade

Neutral pronoun ‘they’ has been voted word of the decade by US language experts, beating out other contenders.

“They” is used in English by a growing number of non-binary individuals, people who do not identify as either male or female. They prefer the plural neutral pronoun to bypass using the pronouns “he” or “she”.

Ben Zimmer, head of the American Dialect Society, said that selection of “they” is an indication that how a personal expression of gender identity has become an increasing part of our shared discourse.

The recognition comes after US dictionary Merriam-Webster in December named “they” as word of the year.

The American Dialect Society had previously named “they” word of the year in 2015.

Other contenders in the decade category included #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, climate, emoji, meme, opioid crisis and woke. The 131-year-old American Dialect Society includes linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, editors, students and scholars.