German university shows importance of generic writing

Posted on June 19, 2013

 

A university in Leipzig has become the first in Germany to introduce a ‘gender equality’ language policy, reversing centuries of linguistic tradition.

As anyone who has learned German will know only too well, it is very much a gender-based language, with specific nouns used for the female form. However, over recent years, the use of these has been debated often.

It all really started in the 1980s, when political correctness dictated that all official literature should be inclusive of both the female and male versions of collective words. This has led, however, to tiringly long documents being created.

Now the University of Leipzig is making a stand, and ignoring these set-in-stone grammar rules to project a more modern image. In fact, it is going one step further, and introducing what it is calling, ‘generic feminism’.

In its correspondence, literature and its website news feeds, mixed groups will be addressed collectively using the female form. The change is reminiscent of France effectively banning the use of ‘mademoiselle’ last year.

It is also another clear example of just how languages have to change and adapt to reflect the modern world.

It is, however, essential that those writing content, whether it is for correspondence or a web page, are fully aware of the rules of grammar and their evolution. Even the smallest mistake can significantly damage the reputation of a brand or organisation, especially a university. Many companies use professional SEO copywriting services to ensure errors are avoided.

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