German language experts appeal to end gender language on German broadcaster


Central Europe


Photo EPA, Hayeoung Jeon

Around 70 linguists and philologists call for an end to gender language on the German public broadcaster ÖRR. According to the language experts, these words are ideologically motivated.

The starting point of gender language practice is “the assessment of the generic masculine as a discriminatory form of language, which we as linguists and philologists reject,” says the appeal directed toward ÖRR, the German broadcaster. “Generic masculine” refers to nouns with a gender-neutral meaning (e.g. employee or citizen) and refer to males and females alike. In gender language, genus - an intralinguistic grammatical category - and sexus - an extralinguistic one denoting a person’s biological sex - are mixed up.

The signatories reject the thesis that social changes are brought about by language interventions. This reports the Christian German press agency IDEA. Instead, genders lead to a pronounced “sexualisation of language”. Gender differences are constantly emphasised. Special characters such as gender asterisks (e.g. employees: Mitarbeiter*innen), colons (Mitarbeiter:innen) or underscores (Mitarbeiter_innen) do not correspond to the official regulations, as these forms impair the comprehensibility, clarity and legal certainty of terms and texts.

According to the signers of the appeal, the language is rejected by most of the population. “It is worrying when more and more journalists, unaware of the linguistic facts, spread the jargon of a vocal minority of language activists in public and erroneously referred to ‘language change’.” Instead, the broadcasters would have an obligation to orientate themselves towards applicable language norms and to use the language “in accordance with the rules, responsibly and free of ideology”.



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