Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

Germans try to get their tongues around gender-neutral language

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Justice ministry’s edict that state institutions must use ‘gender-neutral’ language is forcing the country to confront change.

A primary schoolgirl at the blackboard in Hamburg, Germany, December 1968Der, die or das? For centuries, the seemingly arbitrary allocation of masculine, feminine and neutral gender articles in German has driven non-native speakers to despair. “In German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has,” the American writer Mark Twain once complained. “Think what overwrought reverence that shows for the turnip, and what callous disrespect for the girl.”

But hope may finally be in sight. Changing attitudes to gender are increasingly transforming the German language, and some theorists argue that scrapping the gendered articles altogether may be the most logical outcome.”

Follow this link to read the rest of The Guardian article.

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Author: Hidden Perspectives

A research project within the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at The University of Sheffield.

One thought on “Germans try to get their tongues around gender-neutral language

  1. How are they planning to introduce gender neutrality to the German language? Are they going to introduce new genderless words to replace every gendered word? This move might create problems for German translators. For example, would translators who are translating a document from German into a language that has gendered nouns leave the word in its feminine or masculine form? Would they list both, separating them with “/”? Likewise, translators who have been asked to translate text from a language that has gendered nouns would have to use the gender-neutral words in German. The meaning of the original text might get lost in the German translation if language neutrality is introduced.

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