Ben Zimmer, Jane Solomon, and Charles Carson, "Among The New Words", American Speech May 2016:
In this installment we continue our consideration of items nominated at the American Dialect Society’s 2015 Word of the Year proceedings […]
The overall winner is considered here: they used as a singular third-person pronoun, a gender-neutral (or “epicene”) alternative to the binary of he and she. One might object that there is nothing particularly new about singular they, as the Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.) includes examples
back to the fourteenth century […]
What is genuinely new, however, is the use of they to refer to a known person in order to transcend the binary of he and she in the construction of a “non-binary” gender identity, such as transgender, gender-fluid, genderqueer, or agender.
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