The world is progressing and breaking stereotypes each day. One of the many significant changes that are visible in quite a few countries is the gender neutral approach to things like jobs. In view of this, a prestigious German dictionary named Duden has scrapped the usage of masculine form of nouns to describe professions. Much like English, German is also a gendered language. This basically means that everything is categorised in masculine, feminine and neuter forms. According to a Daily Mail report, approximately 12,000 words have been changed in the dictionary.
The report states that reformists are of the view that a language that associates something like an occupation or activity with gender role reinforces sexism. Those who have a traditional school of thought are of the view that such a thing does not make any difference as it does not change the way people speak.
German linguists and others who are working in other gendered languages have been having debates about the role of language. The argument is whether a role of language is to shape a society or to reflect it. It is not only the dictionary that has made the gender neutral approach. Various German public documents and media have used asterisks to make gender divided nouns.
However, The Association for German Language in August stopped using the asterisk option, stating that the same fails to comply with German grammar or rules of spelling. Furthermore, the associate has also criticised the dictionary’s step to abolish the generic masculine nouns. The language association has described gender-neutral definitions as a product of an 'elitist milieu’. They also blamed Duden for attempting to impose 'politically correct expressions.’ The Association for German Language also said, Kathrin Kunkel-Razum, the dictionary's chief editor, thinks the society follows these rules while the gender terms are not being used in a normal, day to day kind of interaction.
Substantiating the point, the associate also mentioned that various surveys have shown that gendering has no support in society.
The big debate here is that even though Duden does not decide the kind of German one speaks, it continues to be a very prestigious dictionary and is also a very important reference tool, for those learning the language.
Meanwhile, a similar discussion is taking place in Spain and some other Spanish speaking countries wherein some people replace the masculine 'o' or feminine 'a' at the end of the word or noun with an ‘x’.