Gender-neutral pronoun 'they' announced as 'Word of the Decade'

Top US linguists have chosen gender-neutral pronoun 'they' as their word of the decade. 

The American Dialect Society, formed by some of the world's best linguists more than 130 years ago, meet annually to choose the best words that gained traction over the last 12 months. 

In their January meeting on Friday, they chose 'they' as the Word of the Decade, due to the growing use of third-person pronouns for those who identify as gender non-binary. 

'They' was also previously chosen as the Word of the Year in 2015. 

The news was announced by Ben Zimmer, chair of the American Dialect Society's New Words Committee and language columnist for the Wall Street Journal.

"When a basic part of speech like pronouns becomes a vital indicator of social trends, linguists pay attention," Zimmer said, according to The Independent. 

"That trend is 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'."

According to The Guardian, other nominees for Word of the Decade included the hashtag '#BlackLivesMatter' after ongoing allegations of excessive force by police against the African American community and 'climate' after the decade's impact on climate change. 

The use of 'they/them' pronouns hit headlines last year, when pop artist Sam Smith announced they identified as non-binary and no longer would be using male pronouns.