Sweden To Use New Gender Neutral Pronoun, ‘Hen’

A70-13940If the language and words we use determine the frameworks within which we think, the newest edition to Swedish may have an enlightening effect. Slate explains:

For many Swedes, gender equality is not enough. Many are pushing for the Nordic nation to be not simply gender-equal, but gender-neutral. What many gender-neutral activists are after is a society that entirely erases traditional gender roles and stereotypes at even the most mundane levels.

Earlier this month, the movement reached a milestone: Just days after International Women’s Day, a new pronoun, ‘hen’ (pronounced like the bird in English), was added to the country’s National Encyclopedia. The entry defines hen as a “proposed gender-neutral personal pronoun instead of he [han in Swedish] and she [hon].” The announcement came amid heated debate that has been raging in Swedish newspaper columns and TV studios and on parenting blogs and feminist websites. It was sparked by the publication of Sweden’s first ever gender-neutral children’s book, Kivi och Monsterhund.

Hen was first mentioned by Swedish linguists in the mid-1960s, and then in 1994 the late linguist Hans Karlgren suggested adding hen as a new personal pronoun, mostly for practical reasons.

20 Comments on "Sweden To Use New Gender Neutral Pronoun, ‘Hen’"

  1. It’s a good thing we have the word “They”.

  2. I’ve heard this country was a New World Order experiment ground.  Small easily controlled population and if it backfired it could be easily isolated or exterminated.

    • Jin The Ninja | Apr 16, 2012 at 4:12 pm |

      and what causes you to believe this?

    • Mason Free | Apr 16, 2012 at 4:44 pm |

      This seems like an odd claim, given that Sweden’s free-market capitalist economy is one of the strongest in Europe.

      • Monkey See Monkey Do | Apr 16, 2012 at 9:42 pm |

        It’s actually a social democracy. With ‘dare I say’ HEAVY regulation on the capitalist market.

    • LOL! I’ve heard people who believe in the NWO conspiracy say the same about my country.

  3. Jesus Borg | Apr 16, 2012 at 3:58 pm |

    What a bunch of fags…

  4. Admirable, but society is based on division. This is not gonna work. This is a fail and I mean this respectfully. Admirable, but impossible.

  5. Many languages have neutral pronouns; spoken Mandarin Chinese for example.
    The problem with neutral pronouns is that it can get confusing,
    but I don’t think it necessarily engenders gender equity.

    What it does do though
    is make it almost impossible for Chinese people to get gender specific pronouns correct
    when they speak English. 

  6. Maybe we should just refer to the genders by “penis”, “vagina” or “other”.

  7. DeepCough | Apr 17, 2012 at 2:01 am |

    Last I checked, “Hen” is not gender neutral–that’s a female chicken, dammit!

    • You misunderstand. Under gender neutrality everyone is a woman. If you dislike it, you are male and must be re-educated.

      Male thought is wrong. Male thought is inferior. Male thought must be purged.

      • Calhoun1589 | Jul 4, 2012 at 1:28 am |

        gender neutrality certainly does not mean everyone is a woman. gender neutrality means the non-specification of a gender. “woman” signifies female, which is of course a gender. “hen” is a pronoun to be used in order to not show a preference for a certain gender. it’s about our language biases, not re-making us genderless or everyone into women. however it will be interesting to see how this shapes peoples’ conceptions of gender, especially those who grow up completely familiar with gender neutral pronouns.

  8. Coryjames25 | Apr 17, 2012 at 11:40 am |

    Oh, great… now we have to find a way to neutralize testosterone and oxytocin.  Then hopefully our genitals will shrivel up leaving nothing more than a patch of tender skin… Next we’ll have to figure out a way to get rid of the asshole…and eventually we’ll just be synthetic super computers all with the same information and virtually indistinguishable from each other… 

  9. Leogang89 | May 8, 2012 at 2:49 pm |

    It seems like it’ll help to eliminate gender biases. In the vast majority of Western writing, even by women, the pronoun “he” is used to demonstrate some human doing something or other. That kind of constant gender preference conditioning gets picked up implicitly if not explicitly. It’s why many scholars have started using “she” as often as possible to try to correct the imbalance, or at least cause the reader to be aware of the preference. I’n ambiguous cases and examples where showing gender preference isn’t necessary, a neutral pronoun doesn’t seem like a bad idea, but this is not to say that it should always be used or the cultural distinction between male and female should be dissolved.

  10. People hate difference. Humanity wills itself towards either attacking groups within or towards a global homogeneous wanker race. 

  11. I’m glad they decided to officially recognize a gender-neutral pronoun over there, but… Hen? 

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