Word for Word #12 They: A singular pronoun?

Sep 19, 2017
When it comes to the language we use around gender, change is happening fast. But some of that new language isn't so new after all. Internet linguist Gretchen McCulloch takes us deep into the history of pronouns in English, and the long and useful life of singular they; the editors look to Sweden, with an eye on The Watch List; and Norrie explains how one little word took them all the way to the High Court of Australia. 
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Favourite words

Thanks to the attendees of the Frank Wells Volunteer of the Year Award 2017 for their favourite words: amazing, reason, fruition, gosh, synchronicity, contagious, purple, luscious


Additional links

You can read Gretchen McCulloch's article for The Toast on the history of gendered pronouns here.

Read more about Norrie's story in this piece from the Sydney Morning Herald. 


Other links of interest, which informed this episode:

Why People Are Using the Term 'Latinx'

Sweden is about to add a gender-neutral pronoun to its official dictionary

Sweden adds gender-neutral pronoun to dictionary

Sweden’s New Gender-Neutral Pronoun: Hen

VIC Government Inclusive Language Guide

From Agender to Ze: A Glossary for the Gender Identity Revolution


On the Macquarie Dictionary blog:

Pluralising 'you' to 'youse'

Why is the word 'youse' included in the dictionary?



Word for Word is produced by Kate Sherington for Macquarie Dictionary and Pan Macmillan Australia. 

Many thanks to Gretchen McCulloch. See more from Gretchen at her blog, All Things Linguistic, her website at www.gretchenmcculloch.com, and check out her podcast Lingthusiasm

Thanks also to Norrie: thanks also to Queer Screen and the fine folk attending the Frank Wells Volunteer of the Year Award.

Music used in this episode is by Broke For Free, available from the Free Music Archive and used by permission of the artist. Find more music by Broke for Free including The Gold Lining; and If.

Sound effects and clips are public domain, royalty-free, or used by permission.

Our logo is by Amy Sherington.

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