Gender neutral language

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Gender-neutral language, also called gender-inclusive language, is the practice of using words that don't give an idea of someone being female or male. For example, the word "fireman" gives the idea that a person in that work is male. An offer for a job as a "cleaning lady" gives the idea that only a woman should do the job. The gender-neutral alternatives are to say "fire fighter" and "janitor," respectively. Then it is easier to see that these jobs can be done by a person of any gender. Gender-neutral language is important in feminism, because changing the way that people talk can help make sexist ideas less common. For example, the sexist idea that some jobs should only be done by people of certain genders.

Much of the language that is often called gender-neutral has a problem: it's more than a little bit male. This is the problem that the gender-neutral he pronoun, "you guys," and similar kinds of language have in common. "Linguists call male terms used to include females androcentric generics ".[1] Androcentric generics have several problems. It can be arbitrarily seen as either including women or excluding women depending on whims, which has made trouble for women when it happens in legal documents. It can also give the impression that someone is in some way male, which can be unclear or insulting to people of other genders.

Much of other gender-neutral language has a problem: it gives the idea that female and male are the only genders. For example, calling an unspecified person by he or she pronouns, a speaker addressing "ladies and gentlemen," an invitation saying "both genders welcome," and so on. Much of Western society thinks this is inclusive enough, because it doesn't know there are other genders. This language excludes nonbinary people, who would prefer an unspecified person to be called "they" rather than "he or she," would prefer a speaker to address "the audience," and an invitation saying "all genders welcome."

Gender-neutral language is also important to people who have non-binary gender identities. For one reason, this kind of talk helps fight against nonbinary erasure, which is the common but wrong and sexist idea that there are only two genders. Since gender-neutral language doesn't give the idea that a person is male or female, it can also apply to people who identify as other genders, outside of the gender binary. Non-binary people can ask to be talked about in this way.


See also: Glossary of Chinese gender and sex terminology and Chinese neutral pronouns.


See also: Dutch neutral pronouns.

Family terms


  • Ouder. Neutral, formal.


  • Baby. Standard neutral word for very young offspring or very young people.
  • Jonkie. Standard neutral word for young people.
  • Kind. Standard gender neutral word for a young person or an offspring. Implied age isn't adult, but may be.
  • Kleintje. Literally "little one", neutral word for a very young child or young offspring.
  • Kleuter. Neutral word for child that is ~3 to ~6 years old.
  • Peuter. Neutral word for child that is ~1 to ~3 years old.
  • Tiener. Neutral word for a child that is ~10 to ~18 years old.


See main article at gender neutral language in English.

See also: glossary of English gender and sex terminology and English neutral pronouns.


See also: Glossary of French gender and sex terminology and French neutral pronouns.


See main article: gender neutral language in German.

See also: Glossary of German gender and sex terminology and German neutral pronouns.


See also: Glossary of Hindi gender and sex terminology.


See also: Glossary of Japanese gender and sex terminology.


See also: Glossary of Korean gender and sex terminology.


See also: Glossary of Brazilian Portuguese gender and sex terminology, Glossary of European Portuguese gender and sex terminology, and Portuguese neutral pronouns.


See also: Glossary of Russian gender and sex terminology.

Unlike English, Russian has three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. While neuter allows some non-binary people adjectives to use, this gender is not ideal for non-binary people for grammatical reasons. The first is that most neuter nouns decline like masculine nouns. The second is that neuter animate nouns do not change in the accusative case, while both masculine and feminine nouns do. This implies that people using neuter words are not human.


госпожне Plural is "госпожня". Grammatical gender is neutral, and while in the singular it takes endings similar to the masculine.

Family Terms

-евче and -овче In Russian, rather than middle names, children have patronyms, or their father's first name with -евич/-ович (for boys) or -евна/-овна (for girls) added to the end. -евче and -овче are genderqueer endings for one's patronym. Alternatives include -евчен/-овчен (agender), -еви/-ови (multigender) and more.


See main article at gender neutral language in Spanish.

See also: glossary of Spanish gender and sex terminology and Spanish neutral pronouns.


See also: Glossary of Swedish gender and sex terminology and Swedish neutral pronouns.


See also: Glossary of Thai gender and sex terminology.

External links


  1. Suzanne Romaine, Communicating Gender. Mahwah, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1999, p. 104.