GNo matter which public radio or television station you tune in to: speakers, moderators, guests or editors change. On radio and television, most often with an artificial pause before the inside. Sometimes with a clearly emphasized I at -innen. More than 170 scientists have now joined the linguists’ criticism of this self-importance. You rightly pointed out that public service broadcasting and television have a linguistic role model function and should therefore be guided by the applicable language norms. They should therefore deal with language as a cultural asset in accordance with the rules, responsibly and free of ideology. Gendering clearly contradicts the principle of neutrality.
The Duden has long since ceased to be decisive for the applicable language norms, but rather the Council for German Spelling set up by the Conference of Ministers of Education (KMK). The Council has very limited freedom. He is not allowed to change the rules or change the vocabulary independently, he observes language development and tries to ensure the uniformity of language use in the sense of generally understandable communication.
In March of last year, the Council expressly pointed out that special gender symbols such as gender asterisks, colons, underscores and similar spellings do not correspond to official regulations. The body justified its rejection with the fact that these gender forms impair the comprehensibility, the unambiguousness and the legal certainty of terms and texts. So you exclude from the outset certain groups of the population who know little German or who have difficulties with differentiated texts for other reasons.
This is not only deeply undemocratic, but also contradicts the mandate of the public service media. According to the State Media Treaty, their task is to “take into account the principles of objectivity and impartiality in reporting, diversity of opinion and the balance of their offers”. But the broadcasters don’t seem to care. Linguistic whims of some editors thus became the universal language norm.
Even if the broadcasters have not officially called for the use of gender forms, there are guidelines on how to gender. There was enormous group pressure in the editorial offices. Those who do not change will be approached by colleagues and have to justify themselves. The gender forms with artificial pause, colon or asterisk are rejected by more than three quarters of media consumers. However, a small minority uses the influence of the public radio and television stations, funded by compulsory broadcasting fees on every citizen, to impose their language views.
Wanting to educate the language community is a presumption on the part of public broadcasters, which no one needs to tolerate. However, the broadcasters will not be dissuaded with rational arguments. Linguists have pointed out hundreds of times the scientifically inadmissible mixing of the categories of grammatical gender and biological gender (sex) – without success. Their reference to the generic masculine is also ignored. Contrary to what certain representatives of gender linguistics claim, it is not a modern invention, but comes from late antiquity and then found its way into Old High German. It offers a meaningful gender-neutral language option.
Avoiding the generic masculine?
There can be no question that it excludes women and other identities or only includes them. Those who argue in this way knowingly or unknowingly misinterpret grammatical structures. But according to a minority, that shouldn’t be the case. According to an internal instruction for the use of language in ministries, the generic masculine should be avoided as far as possible. Why actually? Because it’s supposedly not gender-fair, whatever that might actually be? Through their gendering, the broadcasters strengthen the aversion of the majority to adhere to minority-conforming language ideologies.
Presumably, gendering will become common in some segments – at universities and colleges, although they are actually obliged to follow the official language norm. But so far the history of language has taught that the language community follows the principle of economy. This means that most speakers will not go along with more cumbersome phrasing, but will choose the most convenient and understandable way of speaking. It will be the same with gender.