The Word Of The Year Is A Revolutionary & Controversial One

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The 2015 Word of the Year is a familiar one, but it's being considered a controversial choice for its new revolutionary meaning.

According to the BBC, the chosen word is the simple pronoun "they," but its meaning is no longer so simple to millennials.

In its 26th annual Word of the Year vote, the American Dialect Society chose the singular pronoun "they," which refers to "a known person, often as a conscious choice by a person rejecting the traditional gender binary of he and she."

This word choice seems rather revolutionary in that it is a newly recognized "gender-neutral third-person singular personal pronoun.” It's an identifier for those who don't necessarily associate with a binary gender.

By choosing this word, the ADS shows a sign that things are moving forward, at least on a small scale. Linguists though would like to see a wider acceptance of "they" and other pronouns that don't go hand-in-hand with gender.

Sally McConnell-Ginet, Professor Emeritus in linguistics at Cornell University, told the BBC that learning to accept "they" will be much easier than coming up with new pronouns so we should be open to this change.

Especially, since it wouldn't be the first time we've adapted our language. As McConnell-Ginet points out "you" has gone from being used to address a single individual to being a plural verb.

“People don’t seem to be upset about that – why can’t we do the same with ‘they’?" McConnell-Ginet asked. "Just let it expand to do this job.”

Its job in this case is to help with acceptance of how any person would like to identify themselves.

“Language can be essential to certain kinds of social change – sometimes the language plays a crucial role, but it’s always together with other kinds of actions," McConnell-Ginet said. "It’s people doing things with it that makes it revolutionary.”
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