Women march during a protest as a part of the #MeToo movement on International Women’s Day in Seoul, South Korea, March 8, 2018.
Separately, the American Dialect Society bestowed its Word of the Year honors on the increasingly common practice of introducing oneself in correspondence or socially by the set of pronouns one prefers to be called by – declaring in an email, for example, “pronouns: she/her.”
The two awards were decided by some 350 member of the society at its annual meeting of academics, graduate students and word lovers who voted by a show of hands, said Ben Zimmer, a linguist and lexicographer who chairs the group’s New Words Committee.
The most popular pick for Word of the Year was “(my) pronouns,” a reflection of “how the personal expression of gender identity has become an increasing part of our shared discourse,” the society said in a statement announcing the outcome.
The same trend was behind the selection of “they” as the Word of the Decade, recognizing its growing use to refer to a person whose gender identity is non-binary. The singular use of “they” was previously designated as the 2015 Word of the Year.
“People want to choose something that stands the test of time and sums up the decade as a whole,” said Zimmer, who writes a language column for the Wall Street Journal.
Social media has turbo-charged the way words or phrases become popular, leading to some recent multi-word champions for Word of the Year, including “tender-age shelter” (a detention facility for young undocumented migrant children separated from their parents) in 2018 and “fake news” in 2017.