By now we have all gotten used to the annual year-end designation of the "word of the year." I did not know, until the holiday break, that there was also a "word of the decade." But there I was watching a football game, and on the news tape running at the bottom of the screen was the announcement: "They," it said, was the "word of the decade."
Of course, it isn't really even the end of the decade, since the twentieth year of the century has to be completed before the next one begins. But that didn't stop the American Dialect Society from making its declaration.
The designation, of course, was meant to acknowledge – and perhaps celebrate, it's not clear – the usage of the third person plural pronoun "them/they" as a substitute for singular pronouns that assume, as the vast majority of people do, the actual gender of the person referred to – in other words, "him” and “her".
On first blush, it sounds like you are now allowed, not only to decide what gender you are, but how many persons you consist of.
I don't know who the American Dialect Society consists of and how they determine what the word of the decade is, but I'm thinking that the word of the decade should at least have some purchase in the normal world outside of college faculty lounges and gay rights gatherings – or meetings of the American Dialect Society.
The vast majority of people in this country not only have never addressed another singular person with a plural pronoun, but they have never heard it actually used this way, and have never knowingly met anyone who has. If they who don't watch Fox News or CNN, they might not even be aware that "they" is a thing.
What many people don't realize about the gender revolution is that it's really only going on in a few privileged sectors of our society. Even when it rears its ugly head in, say, your local school, it isn't coming from large groups of parents agitating for it; it's coming from some outside group or isolated activist who wants attention for his or her politically correct cause.
Notice the American Dialect Society didn't choose the word "woke" as their word of the decade. Practically speaking, it has a far wider usage than plural pronouns for singular people.
In fact, the increasingly common use of "woke" is significant. The prevalence of terms like this and "politically correct" – terms only used derisively towards the people and attitudes they refer to – is an important measure of the skepticism with which progressive ideas about race and gender are viewed by most people.
The PC movement in particular, and left-wing movements in general, do their most destructive work through the manipulation of language. That's why it's so important to them that you accept their Frankenstein gender pronouns.
The fact that terms like "politically correct" and "woke" are in wider use than trendy gender pronouns has got to strike fear among the gender commissars.
It ought to.
[Image Credit: Flickr-Marco Verch, CC BY 2.0]
Martin Cothran is the editor of Classical Teacher magazine, published by Memoria Press, and the director of the Classical Latin School Association.