[Lingtyp] Typographical means to signal gender inclusiveness

David Gil gil at shh.mpg.de
Thu Oct 24 10:38:43 UTC 2019


Hebrew, using a non-Latin script (your question #6), has lots of such 
usages.  Perhaps the most common one involves the slash (/). In the 
following examples (from a quick google search), I use an improvised 
Latin orthography to represent Hebrew graphemes; beneath each example I 
show the two alternative spellings that are combined disjunctively into 
one with the slash, masculine followed by feminine:

(1) ʕbd/t zr/h
     (a) ʕbd zr
     (b) ʕbdt zrh
     'foreign worker'

(2) ħbrym/wt
     (a) ħbrym
     (b) ħbrwt

The above two examples differ in the following way.  Whereas in (1) the 
feminine spelling is formed additively, by adding a letter to the 
masculine, in (2), the slash represents the fact that there are two 
different plural suffixes in complementary distribution, masculine -ym 
and feminine -wt.

Note that (1) illustrates noun-adjective agreement; other similar 
examples might also involve verbs, or even prepositional phrases.

I suspect that in addition to the slash strategy, you'll probably find 
other strategies, involving, among others, the hyphen and parentheses.  
This seems to me like a huge topic, and the above comments just scratch 
the surface of what can be found in Hebrew.



On 24/10/2019 13:09, Sebastian Nordhoff wrote:
> Dear all,
> I am interested in orthographical or typographical means to signal 
> gender inclusiveness (in a social sense) in the world's written 
> languages.
> In the last years, there has been a growing desire to replace a 
> masculine form with Something Else when referring to a) referents of 
> unknown gender or b) groups. So, in German, instead of /Dozenten/ 
> 'lecturers', people now use
> (1) a. Dozenten und Dozentinnen (doubling)
>     b. Dozierende               (participle)
>     c. Dozent/innen             (slash)
>     d. DozentInnen              (CamelCase)
>     e. Dozent_innen             (underscore)
>     f. Dozent*innen             (asterisk)
> In Dutch, we have
> (2) Medewerk(st)er              (parentheses)
>     'employee'
> where "-st-" signals the feminine.
> For most German or Dutch nouns, the feminine is marked by a suffix as 
> opposed to zero marking masculine. When both genders are overtly 
> marked, things get more complicated:
> In Spanish, people use the fact that the masculine marker "-o" and the 
> feminine marker "-a" look like "@" when superposed
> (3) L at s viej at s italian at s        (@)
>     'The old Italians'
> Readers can now choose to focus on the "a-shape" or the "o-shape" when 
> encountering a "@".
> In French, this strategy is not possible. Instead, one finds periods 
> separating formatives, and the reader has to select the correct ones. 
> The precise rules for the creation of the dotted forms are unclear to 
> me at present.
> (4) Cher.ère.s étudiant.e.s     (dotting)
>     'Dear students'
> In (4), the ".e." can be inserted in to "étudiants" 'students' to 
> yield "étudiantes" 'female students'. But "ère" is not inserted to 
> yield "Cherères"; instead, it replaces "er" to yield "Chères".
> I would like to know more about the following questions:
> 1. Which of these strategies are used in other languages you know?
> 2. Are there other orthographical or typographical strategies, 
> different from those listed above?
> 3. What word classes are targetted? Nouns are the obvious choice, as 
> are adjectives and articles. Are there instances of interesting minor 
> word classes where this phenomenon has been observed? What about head 
> marking on verbs?
> 4. How are stem changes handled, e.g ablaut in German "Arzt/Ärztin" 
> 'doctor m/f', where the ¨ cannot readily be separated from the A?
> 5. Is there evidence that complicated gender morphology stifles the 
> desire to be more gender inclusive?
> 6. Are there similar phenomena in languages with non-Latin scripts?
> 7. Any suggestions about predictors for this (geography, genealogy, 
> history, typology, sociology)?
> 8. Are there forms created in order to include people who do not want 
> to identify as either male or female (this is the case for the * in 
> German)?
> 9. Are you aware of existing literature on this topic?
> Best wishes
> Sebastian
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