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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Gender-neutral pronoun gains acceptance

Norway’s official state council on language policy has become the latest to recognize use of the gender-neutral pronoun hen, in addition to hun (her) and han (him). Some dictionaries have already been listing hen for years, but now it has a formal seal of approval.

The Language Council of Norway (Språkrådet) decided to include hen in the official norms for both forms of the Norwegian language, bokmål and nynorsk. It can now be used when referring to a person whose gender is unknown, irrelevant or kept hidden, as often happens when police arrest “a person” and don’t want to further identify the culprit.

Some Norwegian media outlets had already started using hen, which has been borrowed from the Swedish language. Newspaper Aftenposten, noted that the gender-neutral pronoun was first launched in Sweden back in 1966 and was ultimately added to the Swedish Academy’s word list in 2015. Norway has been slower to approve its use, but it was first included in the Norwegian Academy’s dictionary several years ago. The council timed its announcement of its acceptance of the gender-neutral pronoun to coincide with recent Pride events. staff



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