Gender-neutrality in languages with grammatical gender

Gender-Neutrality In Languages With Grammatical Gender

Gender-neutrality in languages with grammatical gender

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Gender neutrality in languages with grammatical gender implies promoting language usage which is balanced in its treatment of the genders. For example, advocates of gender-neutral language challenge the traditional use of masculine nouns and pronouns ("man", "businessman", "he", and so on) when referring to both genders or to a person or people of an unknown gender in most Indo-European and Afro-Asiatic languages.

Overview

The situation of gender neutral language modification in languages that have masculine and feminine grammatical genders, such as French, German, and Spanish, is very different from that of English, because it is often impossible to construct a gender-neutral sentence as can be done in English. For example, in French, the masculine gender supersedes the feminine; the phrase la femme et l'homme (the woman and the man) is replaced by the pronoun ils (they ).

Accordingly, language modification advocates have focused much of their attention on issues such as job titles. Due to the presence of grammatical gender, their immediate goal in this case is often the exact opposite of that in English: creating feminine job titles rather than eliminating them. As such, "gender-inclusiveness" does not necessarily mean eliminating gender, but rather a use of language which they feel is balanced in its treatment of the two genders. For example, they feel that it is insulting to use the masculine gender for a female professional,...
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