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Nonbinary pronoun 'they' named Merriam-Webster word of year


Agence France-Presse

Washington  /  Wed, December 11, 2019  /  12:03 pm
Nonbinary pronoun 'they' named Merriam-Webster word of year

Merriam-Webster website on the display of PC (Shutterstock/Sharaf Maksumov)

The pronoun "they," used by non-binary people who identify as neither male nor female, was named word of the year by US dictionary Merriam-Webster on Tuesday.

In the English language, more and more people are exercising their right to choose the pronoun by which they are identified, regardless of their sex at birth -- such as "they" instead of "she" or "he."

Two months ago, the dictionary added the word "they" as a non-binary pronoun that can refer to just one person.

Read also: 'Justice' named Merriam-Webster's 2018 Word of the Year

"There's no doubt that its use is established in the English language, which is why it was added to the dictionary this past September," the website said, adding that searches for "they" jumped 313 percent in a year.

Nonbinary people are enjoying increased representation on television and in pop culture. Among them is British artist Sam Smith, who recently revealed a preference for "they/them" pronouns "after a lifetime of being at war with my gender."

Tech giant Apple has added "neutral" emojis that don't distinguish between gender to the latest version of its operating system.

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