Sadly, we have lived to see interesting times, as the saying goes. Merriam-Webster has announced the winner of their Word of the Year honors and it’s the word “they.” Now, I know what you might be thinking. They is a pronoun that’s been in the English language since… well, pretty much as long as English has been a language in one form or another. But for all of that history, the venerable pronoun has been used in the plural or, alternately, in cases where the subject is not easily identified. (“The police have no suspects but are still searching for the culprit, whoever they may be.”) It’s also used when the gender of a single individual is not known, but not in every tense.

But now that’s changed. MW will now recognize “they” as meaning a single individual of non-binary gender, as in part of the whole “gender spectrum” madness that’s been going around. (NBC News)

Merriam-Webster’s 2019 Word of the Year is “they” — the singular pronoun that has gained popularity as a way to refer to nonbinary people who identify as neither exclusively male nor female.

The decision, which was entirely data-driven and announced Tuesday morning, came after searches of the word trended all year, according to the dictionary’s editors.

“Pronouns are among the language’s most commonly used words, and like other common words (think ‘go,’ ‘do,’ and ‘have’) they tend to be mostly ignored by dictionary users,” Emily Brewster, senior editor at Merriam-Webster, said in a statement. “But over the past year or so, as people have increasingly encountered the nonbinary use, we’ve seen searches for ‘they’ grow dramatically.”

Merriam-Webster wasn’t the first group to make this move. The American Dialect Society named the singular “they” their word of the year in 2016.

MW is claiming that this decision was entirely “data-driven” based on searches and usage. I’m sure they felt compelled to include that explanation in the announcement knowing the sort of backlash they would be receiving from “grammar nerds.” But that’s obviously not what’s going on here. This was done in response to pressure from the Trans Mafia and their allies, along with a fear of not appearing sufficiently woke.

Let’s face it, the famous dictionary company adds new words all the time when they creep into our language. Some of them produce groans, but if they become part of the language there’s really nothing wrong with doing so. They also add new definitions to existing words when warranted. But what they don’t do is rewrite the basic rules of the road for the English language.

Saying “We need to find a good candidate to fill this job and get them in here quickly,” is a fine example of when you can use the normally plural “them” in a sentence referring to an unknown single individual. But now we’re going to be expected to craft sentences along the lines of, “Chris told me that they want to meet us for lunch tomorrow. I told they that it would be fine.” (In this case, it’s just Chris coming to lunch, not Chris and some other, unspecified individuals.) And that’s just wrong.

Even if the supposed guardians of our language are going to crumble in the face of woke social pressure, that doesn’t mean everyone has to. Count me out. You don’t get to remake the language just to suit the flavor of the month in social justice circles.