‘My’ Oh ‘They’

That “they” has been named “word of the decade” about sums up how our use of language has sunk into the abyss

The cringeworthy “[I’ve endured] a lifetime of being at war with my gender” singer Sam Smith – a “person” known for singing frankly the worst Bond movie theme known to man, Writing’s on the Wall – changed his pronouns to “they/them” in 2019. People rightly laughed at him.

 

Now, even more ridiculously, the American Dialect Society have revealed the results of their annual poll for the word of the year and for the word of the decade also. Ludicrously, they echoed Smith and announced their winners to be the possessive pronoun “my” and the singular pronoun “they.”

 

Of the news, for the society, chairman Ben Zimmer commented:

 

“When a basic part of speech like the pronoun becomes a vital indicator of social trends, linguists pay attention.”

 

“The selection of ‘(my) pronouns’ as Word of the Year speaks to how the personal expression of gender identity has become an increasing part of our shared discourse.”

 

“That trend is also reflected in singular ‘they’ being chosen as word of the decade, with a growing recognition of the use of they for those whose identities don’t conform to the binary of he and she.”

 

Appallingly and indicative of what lowbrow times we live in, others that made the shortlist included “OK boomer” (supposedly a “retrort to someone expressing out-of-touch or condescending views”), “cancel” and “Karen” (a way of describing a “stereotypical complaining, self-important woman”).

 

God help us all.

 

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