Sweden: Official dictionary adds gender-neutral pronoun

“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 pronoun is used to refer to a person without revealing their gender – either because it is unknown, because the person is transgender, or the speaker or writer deems the gender to be superfluous information.

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. 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. Read More