A guide to how gender-neutral language is developing around the world

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12/15/2019

What pronoun do you use to identify yourself? He? She? They? Something altogether different? It’s a question asked increasingly often as acceptance of a spectrum of gender and sexual identities grows. Some languages, like Chinese and Persian, don’t assign nouns a gender or already have a gender-neutral form for people built in. But in languages whose grammar is traditionally based on exclusively male or female options, the answer to this question can still require an explanation. So how do you talk about being queer or non-binary or gender nonconforming in grammatically gendered languages? In many ways, in fact. In recent years, LGBTQ activists and linguists around the world have championed more inclusive language, both by creating entirely new non-binary terms and by retooling already existing words and grammar constructions.

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