[Lingtyp] Typographical means to signal gender inclusiveness

Mattis List mattis.list at lingpy.org
Thu Oct 24 10:46:23 UTC 2019

Note that the Chinese distinction between genders is not in the 
language, only in writing, superimposed on the system by Western 
traditions, with the character for "she" being coined only recently (if 
I remember properly, around early 20th century). No dialect of Chinese, 
as far as I saw it so far, has two distinct pronouns for he and she.

On 24.10.19 12:20, Joo Ian wrote:
> Dear Sebastian,
> the 3SG pronoun in Mandarin is /tʰa55/, but for male 3SG it is written 
> as 他 and for female 3SG as 她 (note the radicals on the left side are 
> different, 亻 meaning person and 女 meaning woman). In a colloquial 
> context of written language, the pinyin /ta/ is sometimes used to 
> represent generic 3SG. For example, on the image below (which I found 
> via DuckDuckGo search) is written 和TA分手, meaning `breaking up with 
> him/her’.
> http://pic.biodiscover.com/files/a/j4/20160401/14594751035084.jpg
>  From Jena, Germany,
> Joo, Ian
>> On 24. Oct 2019, at 12:09, Sebastian Nordhoff 
>> <sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de 
>> <mailto:sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de>> 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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