Merriam Webster added 'they' as a non-binary pronoun. Here's a brief history of gender neutral pronounsBreaking News
tags: gender, language, transgender rights, LGBTQIA history, LGBTQIA, non-binary
America's oldest dictionary Merriam Webster has also recently added the word 'they' as a non-binary pronoun to its website.
Gender-neutral pronouns are defined by the LGBT Resource Centre as providing an identity for a singular person who does not identify as he/him or she/her.
Now, in English, the word "they" is used as a gender-neutral singular pronoun - even though some critics argue that "they" should really only be used to refer to plural nouns.
But these identifiers are nothing new and have actually been used throughout the history of literature.
Examples of the singular "they" being used to describe someone features as early as 1386 in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales and also in famous literary works like Shakespeare's Hamlet in 1599.
"They" and "them" were still being used by literary authors to describe people in the 17th Century too - including by Jane Austin in her 1813 novel Pride and Prejudice.
While these pronouns weren't used historically to define people as gender neutral, 'they' was used to specify a role being undertaken by a person.
"You could say that somebody was say, a teacher, but you didn't know whether that teacher was male or female," Dr Emma Moore, a professor of linguistics at the University of Sheffield, tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.
comments powered by Disqus
- Brexit will ultimately destabilise Europe, historians fear
- The Justinianic Plague's Devastating Impact Was Likely Exaggerated
- 'Human, vulnerable and perfect': New Rosa Parks exhibit shines light on civil rights legend
- How Charlottesville’s Echoes Forced New Zealand to Confront Its History
- Mary Thompson Featured in Article on George Washington's Dog Breeding
- China Releases History Professor, But Travel Concerns Persist
- Gordon Wood Interviewed on the New York Times’ 1619 Project
- Books by Garret Martin, Balazs Martonffy, Ronald Suny, and Kelly McFarland Featured in Article on NATO at 50
- The secret history of women in America, told through their belongings
- Irish Archive Recreates Documents Lost in in 1922 fire