An Analysis of the Generic Masculine, the Inflectional Morpheme -in and Gender-Fair Innovations in Unrehearsed, Spoken Dialogue in Modern Standard German

James Stratton, Purdue University


The second-wave feminist movement and the publication of the Richtlinien zur Vermeidung sexistischen Sprachgebrauchs catalysed the rise of many gender-fair innovations in Modern Standard German (Guentherodt, Hellinger, Pusch & Trömel-Plötz, 1980). While there are a variety of gender-fair innovations which are used in the language today, the Paarform ‘pair form’ and the substantivised adjectival and participle forms are the most productive of the gender-fair innovations. While multiple studies have shown that gender-fair innovations such as the Paarform are used productively in written and formal language (Bußmann & Hellinger, 2003; Mucchia-Faina, 2005), little research has been conducted on their productivity in unrehearsed, spoken dialogue in Modern Standard German. ^ This thesis aims to fulfil this gap in research and investigates the productivity of the generic masculine, the inflectional morpheme – in, and gender-fair innovations such as the Paarform, in unrehearsed spoken dialogue in Modern Standard German. Furthermore, the thesis investigates the effect of the use of the adverbial auch on grammatical gender when comparing two referents of different sexes. Finally, this thesis investigates speakers’ attitudes towards grammatical gender and the ideological suggestion put forward by Luise F. Pusch to neutralise the German articles (1984). ^ Results indicate that in unrehearsed spoken dialogue the generic masculine is used more productively than Paarform innovations and the sex of the speaker is not a statistically significant factor. Regarding the inflectional morpheme –in, which is used to indicate that a referent is female, results indicate that it is not always used with female-only plural referents despite the prescriptive expectation. The results also indicate that auch is not used productively when comparing two referents of different sexes and finally that native speakers of German are not in favour of neutralising the German articles.^




John Sundquist, Purdue University.

Subject Area

Linguistics|Language|Gender studies

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