[Lingtyp] Typographical means to signal gender inclusiveness

Maia Ponsonnet maia.ponsonnet at uwa.edu.au
Fri Oct 25 01:18:34 UTC 2019

Note that in French, it may be worth distinguishing two sorts of abbreviations/practices:

  *   Notations that developed organically and have been used informally for decades, e.g. writing 'venez avec un(e) ami(e)'.
  *   The recent formal definition and push for implementation of 'écriture inclusive' which became more or less obligatory in some official contexts. 'Inclusive' notations like 'tout.e.s les employé.e.s' did not develop organically, but instead resulted from planning and decisions.

I'm sure some people have written about écriture inclusive.
I don't this literature myself, but some names may be harvested from this very interesting podcast:

Best, Maïa

Dr Maïa Ponsonnet
Senior Lecturer and Chair, Discipline of Linguistics

Social Sciences Building, Room 2.36

Faculty of Arts, Business, Law and Education
The University of Western Australia
35 Stirling Hwy, Perth, WA (6009), Australia
P.  +61 (0) 8 6488 2870 - M.  +61 (0) 468 571 030

From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Sebastian Nordhoff <sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de>
Sent: Friday, 25 October 2019 4:36 AM
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>
Subject: Re: [Lingtyp] Typographical means to signal gender inclusiveness

Hi Giorgio,
this is very interesting, since Italian encodes both gender and number
in the relevant suffixes, whereas Spanish has gender o/a but plural -s.
In the strategy you describe, number gets dropped together with gender.
In your example "tutt-" forces a plural interpretation, but a sentence
like (1) is ambiguous with regard to number and could have all four m/f
sg/pl interpretations if I am not mistaken.

(1) Invitiamo  *   stimat*  student* a  sostenere l'  esame
     invite.1pl ART esteemed student  to sustain   ART exam
     'We invite the esteemed students to take the exam'

Are you aware of any strategies for the article here (i/le/gli)?

Note that German has similar problem with its articles, which indicate
case next to number and gender. Some milieus want -x as in Spanish, but
this leads to a six-fold ambiguity for sentences like (2).

(2) Dx  Mann gibt dx  Frau dx Kind
     ART man gives ART woman ART child
     'A gives B to C.' (with all possible permutations)

The fusional morphology of Italian and German makes the expression of
gender-inclusive semantics thus more complicated than e.g. in Spanish
since there is more "collateral damage" in the domains of number and case.

Best wishes

On 10/24/19 12:20 PM, Giorgio Francesco Arcodia wrote:
> Dear Sebastian,
> In Italian, it is common to drop the gender suffix and use a star instead:
> "Dear all" > "car* tutt*" (otherwise, you would have to choose between
> /cari tutti/ [M] or /care tutte/ [F]).
> This works both for derivational gender (nouns) and inflectional gender
> (adjectives).
> For instance, rather than writing:
> per studenti e studentesse ('for studentsM and studentsF')
> Some prefer:
> per student*.
> Hope this helps.
> P.S.: according to the conventions of Standard Italian, the masculine
> would be the 'correct' form for addressing both men and women.
> Giorgio
> Il giorno gio 24 ott 2019 alle ore 12:10 Sebastian Nordhoff
> <sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de
> <mailto:sebastian.nordhoff at glottotopia.de>> ha scritto:
>     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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> --
> Prof. Dr. Giorgio Francesco Arcodia
> 馬振國博士 副教授
> Vice-president, /European Association of Chinese Linguistics/
> 歐洲漢語語言學學會 副會長
> http://www.chineselinguistics.eu/
> Treasurer, /Associazione Italiana di Linguistica Cinese/
> 意大利漢語語言學學會 財務秘書
> //
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