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Original scientific paper [GERMAN]

Christine Ivanov, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Leibniz Universität Hannover  
Maria B. Lange, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Leibniz Universität Hannover 
Tabea Tiemeyer, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., Medizinische Hochschule Hannover 

https://doi.org/10.22210/suvlin.2018.086.05

 

ABSTRACT

In this contribution, we investigate the mechanisms which the German language uses to refer to 
persons, in particular the forms of gender–sensitive text production found in current academic German. We 
analyse the abstracts of two conferences held in September 2017 to shed light on the actual use of written 
language and scrutinize the manner in which the linguisticmeans available to refer to persons are currently 
employed. Th e abstracts are taken from two conferences with Austrian, German, and Swiss participants. 
One of the conferences could be expected to have an explicit interest in gender–fair language, the other 
not. Our contribution is structured as follows: After briefly summarising the salient facts of feminist 
language politics in Germany since the end of the 1970s we characterise the increasing number of written 
guidelines for gender–fair language resulting from these policies from 1980 onwards. Th ese guidelines are 
important instruments for the dissemination of both the linguistic analyses and the political stipulations 
of feminist movements. After this we provide an overview of the most relevant linguistic means to refer to 
persons in the German language to create a backdrop for our text analyses. Individual suggestions are then 
discussed on how to refer to persons in a gender–fair manner, particularly with regard to their applicability 
to scientific texts. Following this, we present the results of some relevant studies on gender–fair language 
and cognition. Th e final analysis of references to persons, as found in recent conference abstracts, are used 
to return to the question of if, at all (or if so: how), gender–fair language can be used adequately in scientific 
texts. Not only do we fi nd that gender–fair language has changed diachronically over the last forty years, but 
we can also show how speakers’ attitudes and motivations can influence the synchronic use of gender–fair 
language. By using examples found in the abstracts analysed we can demonstrate that gender–fair language
creates clear and unambiguous references while avoiding gender stereotypes. Accordingly, we conclude 
that gender–fair language is not – as has been repeatedly claimed during the past decades – polemic and 
cumbersome, but instead lends itself as a precise tool for scientific text production, when it is used to refer 
in an exact and unambiguous manner to its referential objects

 

KEYWORDS

gender–fair language; personal nouns; standard German; scientific language; feminist linguistics

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