Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The gender-neutral hen

News from The Guardian : “The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced.”

The word is hen . Han and hon are Swedish for “he” and “she.” Notice that The Guardian cannot tell us what hen is Swedish for: there’s no gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun in common use in English yet.

comments: 2

Unknown said...

There's a pretty long history of the use of "they" as a 3rd person singular, gender non-specific pronoun. And, a long history of grammarians saying it's wrong. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they

Michael Leddy said...

I’m well aware of singular they : see for instance this post. But I don’t think it’s an equivalent to hen, as it’s a plural pronoun, repurposed, not a singular pronoun that can stand beside he and she. He is a doctor. She is a doctor. But not They is a doctor.