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Oxford Dictionary Proposes Gender-Neutral Title

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The English language has always expanded and contracted to fit our changing social values. Now the Oxford English Dictionary may rise to meet another linguistic challenge. The venerable institution announced it is considering a gender-neutral honorific to include in its next edition. It's Mx., pronounced mix or mucks, and it's designed for people who don't feel that a gender-title, like Ms., Mr. or Miss, fits their identity. Mx. has gained some quiet traction in the UK over the last couple of years from some banks, utilities, universities, even government departments. It's another sign of the ways in which English honorifics have been elastic. The courtesy title Ms. made its debut in the American Heritage School Dictionary in 1972 filling a void in the language for women who wanted to be addressed in a way that didn't require a reference to their marital status. So the intent is to accommodate the needs of more people - be they Mr., Mrs., Ms. or Mx. Smith. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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