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Gender-neutral language: how does it work?

Genderneutrale Sprache ist ein Ansatz in der Kommunikation, der darauf abzielt, Ausdrücke zu nutzen, die niemanden aufgrund seines Geschlechts ausschließen oder diskriminieren. Dieser Ansatz wird zunehmend wichtiger, um sicherzustellen, dass sprachliche Gerechtigkeit und Gleichheit in allen gesellschaftlichen Bereichen gewährleistet sind.


Gender-neutral business language in conference room
Gender-neutral business language in conference room


What is gender-neutral language?


Gender-neutral language avoids the use of gender-specific wording so as not to exclude or discriminate against anyone on the basis of gender. This can be particularly challenging in languages with grammatical gender, such as German. The aim is to create a form of communication that includes all people regardless of their gender.


Methods for creating gender-neutral language


1. use of gender-neutral job titles


Instead of using specifically masculine or feminine forms (e.g. "teacher" or "Lehrerin"), you can use neutral terms such as "Lehrende" or "Lehrkraft".


2. avoidance of gender-specific pronouns


Where possible, pronouns such as "he" or "she" should be avoided and replaced by gender-neutral alternatives such as "she/he", "he*she", "xier", "this person" or simply by the person's name.


3. use of the gender asterisk and other gender-neutral symbols

In written language, the gender asterisk (), the underscore (_) or the colon (:) can be used to include all genders. For example, "female students", "female employees" or "female customers". These symbols signal that other gender identities are taken into account in addition to male and female forms.


4. neutralisation of formulations

Instead of "Ladies and gentlemen", you can use greetings such as "Dear guests", "Dear attendees" or simply "Hello everyone". These formulations are inclusive and avoid gender-specific language.


Challenges and criticism

The introduction of gender-neutral language is not without its challenges. Some people find the new formulations unfamiliar or linguistically awkward. There are also debates about the extent to which such linguistic adjustments really contribute to equality. Critics argue that changes in language do not necessarily lead to real social or cultural change.


The use of gender-neutral language is an important step towards a more inclusive society. Although it can take some getting used to, it is a tool to raise awareness of gender diversity and counteract discrimination. By adapting our language, we can help promote a culture of equality and acceptance. Ultimately, gender-neutral language is not just a matter of linguistic preference, but also an expression of our respect for all people.


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