JANUARY 2016


JOURNAL
01/9/2016  and so it begins  

Gathering in Washington D.C. for its annual meeting, the American Dialect Society has made its 26th annual selection for Word of the Year. And as predicted in this space last month, the winner is a lowly pronoun: they used as a gender-neutral alternative to he and she, with special attention paid to its use as an expression of "non-binary" gender identity.
In the absence of a clear frontrunner drawn from politics or current events, they ran away with the competition after a year that saw greater acceptance of the traditionally plural pronoun in use as a singular form. They has long been a kind of stopgap when writers and speakers need a pronoun that doesn't specify gender in order to refer to someone generically, as in "Every person should be able to choose the pronoun they want."