Main | Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Sweden Adds Gender-Neutral Pronoun

Via the Guardian:
The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced. “Hen” will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL. The pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender – either because it is unknown, because the person is transgender, or the speaker or writer deems the gender to be superfluous information. “For those who use the pronoun, it’s obviously a strength that it is now in the dictionary,” one of the editors, Sture Berg, told AFP on Tuesday. The word “hen” was coined in the 1960s when the ubiquitous use of “han” (he) became politically incorrect, and was aimed at simplifying the language and avoiding the clumsy “han/hon” (s/he) construction. But the word never really took hold. It resurfaced around 2000, when the country’s small transgender community latched on to it, and its use has taken off in the past few years.
Many gender-neutral pronouns have been proposed for English, but none have gained wide usage.

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