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New Book Explores The Long Search For A Gender-Neutral Pronoun

Book cover of "What's Your Pronoun?" by Dennis Baron. Feb. 10, 2020.
Liveright Publishing
Book cover of "What's Your Pronoun?" by Dennis Baron. Feb. 10, 2020.

You see them below the signature line on emails more and more these days: a person’s preferred pronouns.

There are the familiar ones — she, her, hers and he, him, his. But the use of "they" is becoming more common as a singular gender nonbinary pronoun.

In his new book, “What’s Your Pronoun: Beyond He and She," linguistics scholar Dennis Baron recounts the centuries' long search for a gender-neutral pronoun.

RELATED: Merriam-Webster Singles Out Nonbinary ‘They’ For Word Of The Year Honors

"What we are trying to do is get people to respect one another and to include one another in the conversation whether it's spoken or written," Baron said. "It's a politeness issue. It's a civility issue. It's a way to say, 'I'm listening to you by using those pronouns.'"

Baron joined Midday Edition on Monday to talk about English's old pronoun problem.

He, she, him, her, they? The subject of pronouns and which ones to use with which people has become ubiquitous in society these days. In his new book, “What’s Your Pronoun - Beyond He and She,” linguistics scholar Dennis Baron recounts the centuries’ long search for that missing gender-neutral pronoun.