Which language has the fewest pronouns?
Linguistics: How sexist is the German language?
After the Universities of Leipzig and Potsdam decided in June to use the generic feminine in their statutes, this process triggered a flood of reactions - both positive and negative. In most of the media, the comments were neutral to rather positive, in most blogs and reader comments rather negative.
The reason to present the whole thing as progress and thus as something positive is the assertion, which has now almost been accepted as a fact, that German is a male language. It is used to oppress women.
The main accusation against the German language is the so-called generic masculine. The masculine term covers women with, but makes them invisible, pushes them into insignificance. Of course, this position has opponents: traditionalists, anti-feminists, language defenders, conservatives.
If they want to oppose the feminist position, they usually come up with an argument based on the following logic: grammatical gender and biological gender, in shorter and more learned words gender and sex, are two different things: THE pot and THE spoon are not male, just like THE jug and the fork are not feminine.
No relation to biological sex
However, this argument does not quite reach the goal. It is true that in German all nouns have a grammatical gender. In many cases, there is absolutely no reference to the concept of biological sex. But that stops immediately when animate beings are involved. You can see that beautifully in animals and their names.
Most German speakers think that when you talk about a cat or a snake, you are talking about a female; different with the dog or the wolf. The French assume that a cat or a snake is male when in doubt, because it says “le chat” and “le serpent”, the noun being combined with the masculine article.
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