‘(My) pronouns’ named 2019 ‘Word of the Year’ by linguists

The linguists have spoken, and their pick for the “Word of the Year” is … “(my) pronouns.”

The American Dialect Society, or ADS, chose “(my) pronouns” for its 30th annual pick, recognizing its use as an introduction for sharing one’s set of personal pronouns. The society considers both words and phrases when making its picks.

In addition, the society picked the singular “they” — its 2015 “Word of the Year” — as its “Word of the Decade.” The singular “they” was recognized for its growing use to refer to a person whose gender identity is nonbinary.

“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,” Ben Zimmer, chair of the society’s New Words Committee, said in a statement.

More and more people are using “(my) pronouns” on social media and in email correspondence to let others know how they prefer to be addressed. You may have seen it as Pronouns: he/him. Or Pronouns: they/them.

The other nominees for “Word of the Year” were “cancel,” “Karen” and “ok, boomer.”

Contenders for “Word of the Decade” were “#BlackLivesMatter,” “climate,” “emoji,” “meme,” “#MeToo,” “opioid crisis,” “selfie” and “woke.”

In addition, ADS wordsmiths gave winning votes in several categories:

  • Political word of the year: “quid pro quo”
  • Slang/informal word of the year: “and I oop” (catchphrase of VSCO girls — young woman who posts trendy pictures of herself on the VSCO app — expressing shock, surprise or embarrassment)
  • Most creative: “nobody” (phrasal template mocking someone providing an unsolicited opinion)
  • Euphemism of the year: “people of means” (rich people)
  • Digital word of the year: “impeach” (spelled with the letters I and M in front of a peach emoji)

See the American Dialect Society’s previous picks for “Word of the Year.”

Michelle Basch

Michelle Basch is a reporter and anchor at WTOP.

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