The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced.
“Hen” will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL. [...]
The word “hen” was coined in the 1960s when the ubiquitous use of “han” (he) became politically incorrect, and was aimed at simplifying the language and avoiding the clumsy “han/hon” (s/he) construction.
But the word never really took hold.
It resurfaced around 2000, when the country’s small transgender community latched on to it, and its use has taken off in the past few years.
It can now be found in official texts, court rulings, media texts and books, and has begun to lose some of its feminist-activist connotation.
If the Swedes don’t have an easy and traditional form comparable to “they,” this seems like an excellent idea, and I’m glad it’s catching on. (Thanks, Bathrobe!)