Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 


They've really gone and done it now.

When I say "they," I mean the American Dialect Society.

I can already hear you sniffing that I shouldn't call the American Dialect Society "they." It should be "it."

I wouldn't dream of disabusing you.

I will, though, delight in the American Dialect Society creating a new liberating dialectic for my carefree insistence on singular plurality.

You see, they've just voted on the Word Of The Year. And, as the Washington Post reports, they've decided on the singular "they."

You might think my use of "they" has become singularly rampant in these last 100 words.

But I was brought up in England, where a sports team is a "they," even though they might have a singular name -- like Chelsea. They (the English, that is) say: "Chelsea are a good team. The singular/plural thing is far more liberal.

I feel, therefore, that the American Dialect Society's decision is the first step towards singular pluralism. This will unite speakers of English and American in a more common parlance.

I might soon be able to say "Manchester United are not a very good team," without at least one erudite American looking down their nose at me.

Of course, the roots of the society's decision lie in the annoying insistence on having to use the phrase "his or her."

As in: "Everyone has his or her tolerance limits for whiny voices." Or even: "Everyone wants his or her child not to be a drug dealer."

Now, thanks to the American Dialect Society, we can say without shame: "Everyone wants their child not to be a drug dealer."

You will, naturally, be wondering which words they beat out. I mean, "they" beat out.

"Schlong," as a verb, was in the running. This is exclusively thanks to the urbane Donald J. Trump using it to describe Hillary Clinton losing to Barack Obama.

"Netflix and chill," de rigueur these days for "come on over to my place for, you know, a coffee," was also considered.

Another of the nominees had a smutty bent. This was the eggplant emoji. Should you have been buried alive by annoyed neighbors over the past year, you might not know that this emoji signifies, well, a schlong -- as some choose to call the male member.

Some purists will be particularly delighted at the eggplant emoji's failure. (But not their eggplant emoji's failure, you understand.)

At the end of last year, the Oxford Dictionaries declared the Face With Tears Of Joy emoji as their word of the year.

They must have been tipsy on cabernet, you might wonder. And I'd wonder whether your "they" would be referring to the voting committee or their dictionaries.

We're surely not ready yet for an emoji as representing our linguistic progress when there are more vital areas to address.

Of course, everyone reading this might have their own opinion about that.

Published on: Jan 8, 2016
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.