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Less than one percent of words would be affected by gender-inclusive language in German press texts

  • Research on gender and language is tightly knitted to social debates on gender equality and non-discriminatory language use. Psycholinguistic scholars have made significant contributions in this field. However, corpus-based studies that investigate these matters within the context of language use are still rare. In our study, we address the question of how much textual material would actually have to be changed if non-gender-inclusive texts were rewritten to be gender-inclusive. This quantitative measure is an important empirical insight, as a recurring argument against the use of gender-inclusive German is that it supposedly makes written texts too long and complicated. It is also argued that gender-inclusive language has negative effects on language learners. However, such effects are only likely if gender-inclusive texts are very different from those that are not gender-inclusive. In our corpus-linguistic study, we manually annotated German press texts to identify the parts that would have to be changed. Our results show that, on average, less than 1% of all tokens would be affected by gender-inclusive language. This small proportion calls into question whether gender-inclusive German presents a substantial barrier to understanding and learning the language, particularly when we take into account the potential complexities of interpreting masculine generics.

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Author:Carolin Müller-SpitzerORCiDGND, Samira OchsORCiDGND, Alexander KoplenigGND, Jan Oliver RüdigerORCiDGND, Sascha WolferORCiDGND
Parent Title (English):ArXiv
Publisher:Cornell University
Place of publication:Ithaca, NY
Document Type:Preprint
Year of first Publication:2024
Date of Publication (online):2024/02/07
Publishing Institution:Leibniz-Institut für Deutsche Sprache (IDS)
GND Keyword:Deutsch; Genus; Geschlechtergerechte Sprache; Korpus <Linguistik>; Presse
Page Number:27
DDC classes:400 Sprache / 400 Sprache, Linguistik
Open Access?:ja
Leibniz-Classification:Sprache, Linguistik
Program areas:Lexik
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt