Climate, they, or meme? Word of the Decade revealed

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jan 07, 2020, 01.24 PM(IST) Edited By: Bharat Sharma

''They'' chosen as word of the decade | Image courtesy: Crain Communications Photograph:( Twitter )

Story highlights

 

  • The winning gender-neutral pronoun has gained usage all over the world
  • The other contenders for the coveted title included ''climate'' and ''meme''

The ''Word of the Decade'' was just announced by the American Dialect Society. ''They'' has been voted as the ''word of the decade'' by United States language experts. The winning gender-neutral pronoun has gained usage all over the world by non-binary identifying individuals, who choose to not be referred as either ''he'' or ''she''.

The other contenders for the coveted title included ''climate'' and ''meme''.

Used primarily by non-binary individuals (who identify neither as male nor female), ''they'' is preferred to bypass the traditionally gendered dictates of ''he'' or ''she''.

Ben Zimmer, head of the American Dialect Society, said, "When a fundamental part of language like pronouns becomes a vital indicator of trends in society, linguists prick up their ears". The 131-year-old society includes linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, editors, students and scholars.

In a statement released on Friday, he added how the selection of ''they'' as word of the decade indicated "how the personal expression of gender identity has become an increasing part of our shared discourse."

Earlier, the American dictionary Merriam-Webster had named ''they'' its word of the year in November 2019.

Also read: Non-binary "They" becomes 2019 Word of The Year: Merriam-Webster

Non-binary individuals are coming out in larger numbers than ever, and have found representation on television and in pop culture. Sam Smith, a famous British singer-performer recently revealed that he identifies as non-binary and prefers the pronouns ''they/them'' "after a lifetime of being at war with [their] gender."

Recently, the technology giant Apple had added gender-neutral emojis to its roster. 

In 2015, the American Dialect Society had named "they" their word of the year.

''They''
Image: Earlier, ''They'' was voted word of the year by Merriam-Webster

Even though it's referred to as the ''word of the year'', the category is not limited to a single word. According to the Society, other words that were almost chosen include #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, climate, emoji, meme, the opioid crisis, and woke.

The 131-year-old society includes linguists, lexicographers, etymologists, grammarians, historians, researchers, writers, editors, students and scholars.

The words of the past two decades were ''google'' and ''web''.

(With inputs from agencies)