The Great Debate UK
Jacinta Nandi lives and works in Berlin, and her first book will be published by Periplaneta this month. The opinions expressed are her own. Thomson Reuters will host a follow-the-sun live blog on International Women’s Day on March 8, 2011.
It’s quite interesting to compare what’s considered sexist language in Germany with what’s considered sexist in the English-speaking world.
The main difference is a grammatical one: whereas English is basically a gender-neutral language, German nouns are always gender-specific. So, a lot of the time, when English speakers talk about professions, such as, for example, doctor or pilot, the terms they use have always been gender-neutral and probably always will be.
There are, however, some jobs which used to have female forms – classic examples being words such as authoress, sculptress, poetess – but this usage is considered old-fashioned and sexist nowadays.