QUEER VOICES

She? Ze? They? What’s In A Gender Pronoun

WASHINGTON — What happens when 334 linguists, lexicographers, grammarians and etymologists gather in a stuffy lecture hall on a Friday night to debate the lexical trends of the year?

They become the unlikely heroes of the new gender revolution.

That’s what happened here earlier this month anyway, at a downtown Marriott, where members of the 127-year-old American Dialect Society anointed “they,” the singular, gender-neutral pronoun, the 2015 Word of the Year. As in: “They and I went to the store,” where they is used for a person who does not identify as male or female, or they is a filler pronoun in a situation where a person’s gender identity is unknown.

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