Sweden has long been progressive on gender egalitarianism, and now its language is officially catching up. A gender-neutral pronoun, hen will join its binary counterparts han (he) and hon (she) in the new edition of Sweden’s official dictionary, helping Swedish speakers avoid the sort of linguistic gymnastics common in languages without a gender-neutral alternative.
Efficient in a variety of situations, hen, as AFP notes, can be used when you don’t know the gender identity of the person in question, when the person is transgender, when you don’t want to reveal a gender identity, or when gender identity simply seems irrelevant in context. It is one of 13,000 new words chosen by the Swedish Academy for inclusion in its updated dictionary, which will be made available on April 15. (Founded in 1786, the Swedish Academy is an independent cultural institution that works to uphold the “purity, vigor and majesty” of the Swedish language.) More.