Berlin — German news is becoming more and more gender neutral.
This was announced on Monday by eight major news agencies from Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Agencies that provide news to major German-speaking media said they would be more cautious when it comes to discriminatory language.
Their decision is the latest development in Germany’s battle over gender-neutral language, a debate often referred to as Germany’s own culture war.
German, like many other languages, assigns a gender to all nouns. Campaigners for change argue that this could be a problem. For example, when the masculine plural is used as a generic plural.words Schulerfor example, generally applies to groups of boys and girls.
Campaigners say language needs to be adjusted to explicitly include women and nonbinary, pointing to research showing that language shapes how people see the world. Opponents argue that gender-neutral language is awkward, hard to read, and hard to pronounce. Many people are wondering if it is necessary to change the language.
Agencies setting the tone for the German language, read and listened to by millions of people every day, should ultimately choose a way in-between, reflecting the wide variety of audiences they serve. They faced a dilemma when they were consulted by a daily newspaper that used agency material.
“Once you start using gender-neutral language, you create problems with your previous print readership. Sven Gösmann, Editor-in-Chief of the Deutsche News Agency (DPA) said.
The agency agreed to use various language tweaks, such as writing plurals both masculine and feminine, with the feminine form first. “School student” means “Schuler Linnen und schuller,” for example.
At least for now, they have decided not to adopt more radical changes such as the so-called gender star, which places an asterisk before the ending of feminine words to include feminine, masculine, and non-binary. . Schuler*Innenfor example.
Luise F. Pusch, a linguist and advocate for change who has worked on the issue for more than 40 years, described the new modus operandi as “a clear triumph for the feminist movement.”
Several other German news outlets have already made changes to their use of the language in response to the ongoing debate. He said he would watch closely to see if it changed. He said the direction of the trip was clear, if not the final destination.
“I know where the journey is going, but I don’t know how far it will go,” he said.