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Jörg Rhiemeier wrote:
> There also have been repeated attempts to introduce such
> "gender-neutral"
> pronouns into English.  An obvious solution would be using "it"

How would that be obvious?  "It" is for inanimates (or at least low
animacy, insects are "it").

> Another, more successful proposal is to use "they" as a
> gender-neutral singular pronoun.

Not a proposal at all, that's simply the form that's evolved naturally.
And it's very logical.  English 3rd person pronouns can be described
thusly:

   S     P
M  He
F  She
N  It
E        They

(E = epicene)

Thus, the singular use is merely that "they" is no longer "3rd person
epicene plural" but merely "3rd person epicene", thus:

   S     P
M  He
F  She
N  It
E     They

> An agreeable term would be "common gender", I think; at least I
> prefer calling it this way.  Another term occasionally used is
> "epicene".

Epicene is the most common term, as far as I can tell.

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