Hello! Pretty much in every show that I’ve watched I’ve seen two very similar words like Freund/ Freundin or Chef/Chefin that mean the same thing but are written differently! Why is that?
Freundin and Chefin are feminin.
Like Nevenka said, German sometimes marks the difference between a noun that refers to a man and one that refers to a woman.
For example, while in English the word “boss” would describe a person of any gender, the German “Chef” is used for a male boss and “Chefin” for a female boss. This is very common with most professions.
It also happens with “Freund”, which means a male friend (or a boyfriend, depending on the context), and “Freundin”, which means a female friend (or girlfriend)
Thank you! That’s really clear! I have another question! How do Germans refer to people that are non binary? I mean, how can I use gender-neutral language in German?
Usually “Geschwister" is plural and although “Mitglied” and “Kind” are of neutral gender , you do not refer to someone with “es” , but you rather suppose it is a man or a woman and use “er” / “der” or “sie” / “die” . The same goes for “Baby” which is also of neutral gender.
The »xier« pronouns have been around for a decade now. The oldest example of usage is from 2012 in the German music magazine »Visions». An article reports about Rae Spoon:
An der Musik lässt xier es jedenfalls nicht aus, die bleibt schön.
Spoon uses »they« pronouns in English, had been asked beforehand and agreed to »xier« pronouns being used for them in the article. It is easier to get used to neo-pronouns when they are included in media one reads, listens to, watches or plays: quotes from books, movies, TV shows or video games.
Media that translate »singular they« into German has a high percentage of these quotes. Until 2021, »xier« was the most widely used neo-pronoun in TV shows and movies. The blog post Darunter und Darüber analysis different approaches of translation in subtitles and dubbing.
In the year 2021, both press and social media addressed gender inclusive language including neo-pronouns. The topic become relevant to mainstream society and was discussed widely. Among teachers of German as a foreign language at American universities and schools interest in neo-pronouns peaked as »singular they« has become widespread in the English-speaking world. Students specifically ask for German translations in class. Language change with regard to pronouns has already progressed more there.
Known for speaking Hochdeutsch — considered the most standard variant of German — Hanoverians have been encouraged by city hall to use gender-sensitive language for almost two decades, avoiding the generic masculine whenever possible.
In 2019, Hanover became the first state capital to mandate the use of gender-neutral language in all official communication, from emails to brochures and posters. It deployed what’s known as the “gender star,” an asterisk placed within a noun to indicate it refers to men, women and nonbinary people alike. For instance, the word for all citizens became Bürgerinnen* .
That’s a really interesting question! I’ve seen the star (Chef*in), as Nevenka has also pointed out in her answer. I’ve seen it mostly used in plural though and I’m not sure if it only includes male and female people or if it is broadly accepted for non binary people as well!
The * is used for “gendern”.
Ein* e Mitarbeiter* in(=ein Mitarbeiter, eine Mitarbeiterin)
Ein* e Minister* in (=ein Minister, eine Ministerin)
There is other way too like:
I have an example for gender inclusive speaking:
Studentinn (would be the female)
Student (would be male)
Studierende (would be a non binary gender)
In the write way to refer to female/male would be: Student:in (but that isn’t non binary)
I think its very interesting to find ways that to avoid the exclusions through language.
Totally! Each language has it’s own rules for creating a gender inclusive vocabulary! And it is always important to know how to use them properly!