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.

Gender-neutral language is also important to many 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.

Chinese[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Chinese gender and sex terminology.


  • tā. Verbally all gendered pronouns sound the same, and so they technically can be gender neutral.


  • 先生 (xian sheng). A gender neutral term to refer to a teacher, a new acquaintance with whom you are unfamiliar, or anyone with whom you are not on a first-name basis, though it is usually masculine-based.
  • 师傅 (shi fu). A gender neutral term, though it is usually masculine-based, conveying respect to someone if you don't know their name, and it means "master."
  • 老师 (lao shi). Standard word for teacher.
  • 博士 (bo shi). Standard word for professor.
  • 老板 (lao ban). Standard term for one's boss (say at work).
  • 同学 (tong xue). Standard term for one's classmates

Family Terms

  • 孩子 (hai zi). Standard gender neutral term for child.
  • 家长 (jia zhang). Standard gender neutral term for parent.


  • 服务员 (fu wu yuan). Standard word for server and/or gender neutral term for waiter/waitress.


  • 对象 (dui xiang). Term that means one's romantic partner. It is gender neutral.
  • 配偶 (pei ou). Term that means one's partner in marriage. It is gender neutral.

Dutch[edit | edit source]

See gender neutral language in Dutch.

English[edit | edit source]

This section has its own article at Gender neutral language in English.

French[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of French gender and sex terminology.

German[edit | edit source]

This section has its own article at Gender neutral language in German.

Hindi[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Hindi gender and sex terminology.

Italian[edit | edit source]

Italian, as with other romance languages, presents challenges for inclusivity of non-binary genders in that grammatically there only exists masculine and feminine genders. Although it descended from Latin, which had 3 genders (masculine, feminine and neuter), it has since lost its neuter form. Nevertheless, different approaches might be transform the way Italian is spoken to make it more gender inclusive.

Nouns[edit | edit source]

Italian has masculine and feminine grammatical genders, although some nouns ending in -e (singular)/ -i (plural) hint at a suggested neutral form not dissimilar from gender ambiguous nouns in Spanish (ex. el estudiante and la gente both end in -e even though they are gendered masculine and feminine). One idea therefore may be to use these endings for nouns to neutralize language. Possible noun endings that could work:

  • -e/-i, already present in standard Italian
  • -en/is, nonstandard and not regularly used, taking from latin endings
  • -u/un/us, nonstandard, taking from latin endings.
  • -@, similar to "chic@s" in Spanish
  • -', In American Italian pidgin, most words are often shortened of their final vowel, and additionally have been used neutrally. (ex. Regazzo/a would turn into regazz'). This way of speaking is often associated from Italian Mobsters, however, and is likewise a product of suppression during cultural assimilation.
  • - *, in similar usage to the ' in American Italian Pidgin, the asterisk is used at the end of words to represent gender neutral vowels. This method has been used by Queer Italian activists and even has been sported in some italian pride media.

Personal Pronouns[edit | edit source]

  • Loi, non-standard italian, not reguarlarly used (nonbinary option as "singular they")
  • Ilu, nonstandard italian, status of use unknown
  • Il@, nonstandard Italian, status of use unknown
  • Lau, nonstandard italian, status of use unknown.
  • Leu, nonstandard italian, status of use unknown.

Irish[edit | edit source]

The irish language (Gaeilige) presents some challenges to creating a gender neutral way of speaking. Every noun is gendered in either masculine or feminine grammatical gender, with accompanied binary forms for adjective agreement, pronouns and prepositions.

Nouns[edit | edit source]

Nouns in Irish are categorized into masculine and feminine grammatical genders, which in turn dictate the way nouns behave with the definitive articles "an" and "na", initial consonant mutations and the formation of adjectives. Gendered nouns correspond to gendered pronouns as stand ins (ex. masculine, Sé, or feminine, Sí). Nouns do seem to possess standard endings for the most part, although there are some exceptions. Irish nouns have 4 grammatical cases: nominative/accusative, vocative, genitive and prepositional.

Masculine endings include the following

  • ending in a broad consonant
  • occupational nouns ending in -óir/oir, -éir/eir, -úir/uir
  • single syllable words ending in -eacht or -acht
  • end with the masculine diminutives -ín or -án
  • end with -ste
  • most loan words are masculine (including derivatives using -ach)

Feminine endings include:

  • ending in a slender consonant
  • multiple syllable words ending in -eacht, -acht, or íocht.
  • ending in -eog or -óg
  • ending in -chan
  • are place names ending in -lann
  • most countries, rivers and languages are feminine.

(it could be argued since -eacht and -acht occur as both feminine and masculine nouns that there is some gender ambiguity/neutralized gender, and perhaps these could be neuter endings for nouns)

Pronouns[edit | edit source]

Pronouns in standard Irish Gaelic are as follows:

  • - meaning he in English, is a masculine pronoun.
  • - meaning she in English, is a feminine pronoun.
  • Siad - meaning they in English, is neutral but a plural pronoun

Native speakers and new speakers alike have been thinking up helpful gender neutral alternatives. Some of these gender neutral pronouns include:

  • Siad - though not commonly used, some people have used this in place of binary pronouns, although some a critical of using it this way because they worry it will confuse people, because of Siad being used as a plural pronoun.
  • Siú - suggested from some learners in the duolingo community, it bears resemblance to and but stands alone as a gender neutral alternative. Not regularly used. Also bears similarity to siùd, meaning "those"
  • Duí - non-standard, used in place of and , it derives from the word duine which translates to person. Bear in mind that the grammatical gender of duine itself is grammatically masculine in gender.
  • - non-standard, nonbinary pronoun inspired from Gaulish "Chí"
  • Són - Old Irish pronoun meaning "This" (It's modern variant, seo, means the same)
  • Intí - Old Irish pronoun meaning one/he/she
  • Sin - this has been in use by some native speakers. it's literal meaning is "that".

Irish has three grammatical forms for personal pronouns: conjunctive form, disjunctive form and emphatic form.

Conjunctive form

The conjunctive form is used when the subject follows the verb. Standard Irish sentence structure is Verb Subject Object or VSO. Forms corresponding to the non-standard pronouns above include Siú,Duí and .

Example: Ritheann siú or "they (sg.) run" Ritheann sin or "they (sg.) run" Ritheann cí or "they (sg.) run"

Disjunctive form

The disjunctive form is used when the pronoun isn't the subject or the subject pronoun doesn't follow the verb. Forms corresponding to the non-standard pronouns above include ,Dhuí and Chí

Examples: Is dalta sin or "they are a student" Is duine dhuí or "they are a person" Is garda chí or "they are a police officer" Buailim mé iú or "I hit them" Buailim mé dhuí or "I hit them" Buailim mé chí or "I hit them"

Emphatic form

Emphatic form is used to emphasize pronouns and is similar to the English use of italics to give words a bit more weight. Conjunctive and Disjunctive forms exist within the Emphatic form. Forms for the nonstandard pronouns include Suisa,Duísean and Císa (emphatic conjunctive) and Uisa, Dhuísean and Chísa (emphatic disjunctive).

Examples: Is dhuísean! or "It's them'" Is suisa! or "It's them" Is císa! or "It's them"

Prepositional pronouns

In addition to these other forms of pronouns, The irish language has "prepositional pronouns", which create specific forms of gender pronouns depending on the type of preposition. Bear in mind the table below contains only the neutral singular versions of these pronouns---Likewise, these are proposed pronouns and non-standard forms, some of them inspired by the neuter gender endings found in Old Irish.

ag "at" de "off" le "with" roimh "before" ar "on" do "for/to" ó "from" thar "over" as "out of" faoi "under" trí "through" idir "between" chuig "toward" i "in" um "around" fara "along/ with"
agáith déin léin romhin orsin daoise uaithu thairu asin fús tría --- chús ionseá umúl feirsa

Family terms[edit | edit source]

There are words that would be categorized in binary genders but could be used as neutral sounding words.

  • Páiste means child, (plural páistí), grammatically masculine.
  • Tuismitheoir means parent (plural tuismitheoirí), grammatically masculine.
  • Mo ghra or Gra can be used in a neutral sense to say "my love" or "love" when referring to a romantic partner.

See also: Glossary of Irish Gender and Sex Terminology.

Japanese[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Japanese gender and sex terminology.

Korean[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Korean gender and sex terminology.

Latin[edit | edit source]

Latin is essentially a historical language, but it is still used by a small but vibrant community worldwide. It starts to have some LGBT terminology, like "homosexualitas"/"homophylophilia" (homosexuality), "propensio sexualis" (sexual orientation), "intersexualitas" (intersexuality), "identitas generis" (gender identity) etc., but modern neologisms remain a tricky issue in the language. Also, Latin traditionally makes extensive use of generic masculine, which is thus difficult to avoid. If one is ready to use terms that didn't exist in the classical language (or had a different meaning then), but have nevertheless been in use for centuries (e.g. "persona", "individuum"), it is possible to use a mix of terms of different grammatical genders and add other words as appositions aligned in gender in order to convey gender neutrality, e.g. "homo filius", "persona filia" and "individuum filium" in order to express "child" (in the sense of offspring). For "enby", "nebinium" has been proposed.[1]

Norwegian[edit | edit source]

Norwegian is a language with three grammatical genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter, but they have nothing at all to do with real gender. For example, "kvinne", which means "woman", "kusine", which means a female cousin, "jente", which means "girl", and "dronning", which means "queen", are all or can be masculine nouns. There are also a few odd words, such as romkamerat, an inclusive word meaning room-mate. The word "kamerat" means male friend.

Family terms[edit | edit source]

  • Ektefelle: An inclusive word for a spouse.
  • Barn: An inclusive word for a child.
  • Søskenbarn: An inclusive word for a cousin.
  • Forelder: A word for a parent.

Pronouns[edit | edit source]

  • Seg: An extremely common, standard word for "themself" or "themselves".
  • Si: The feminine possessive form of 'seg'. It indicates belonging to the subject, but not the gender/lack of gender of the subject (or even the object).
  • Sin: The masculine possessive form of 'seg'. Its function is similar to the function described above.
  • Sitt: The neuter possessive form of 'seg'. Its function is similar to the function described above.
  • Hen: An inclusive third-person pronoun. The Norwegian Language Council (Språkrådet) is unfavourable towards use of "hen" as a general gender-neutral pronoun in formal texts (while open to change should actual language use evolve), but advises to use it when requested by a nonbinary person. At that occasion, the Språkrådet uses "hen" also as object form and "hens" as genitive form.[2]

Other Types of Relationships[edit | edit source]

  • Venn: A standard word for "friend". "Kamerat" and "venninne", the other words, are binary.
  • Kjæreste: A person who is loved by another person, but not married to them.

Portuguese[edit | edit source]

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

Russian[edit | edit source]

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 (though there are rare neuter animate nouns that change in the accusative plural; see "лицо" in Wiktionary), while both masculine and feminine nouns do. This implies that people using neuter words are not human.

Titles[edit | edit source]

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

Family Terms[edit | edit source]

-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.

Spanish[edit | edit source]

This section has its own article Gender neutral language in Spanish.

Swedish[edit | edit source]

A symbol of Swedish female, male, and neutral pronouns.

See also: Glossary of Swedish gender and sex terminology.

Traditionally, the word den has been used as a gender neutral pronoun and remains widely used today. However, depending on the context, the word den can also mean it leaving it unsatisfactory as a gender neutral pronoun for many who do not wish to be seen as comparable to an inanimate object. Since the 1960s, the person pronoun hen has become increasingly popular and will, in 2015, be added for the first time to Svenska Akademiens Ordlista (the Swedish equivalent to France's Dictionnaire de l'Académie française). It usage, however, remains somewhat contraversial and is vigorously opposed by some.

Pronouns[edit | edit source]

hen Standard gender neutral / third gender personal pronoun
hens Possive form of hen
henom Object form of hen

The object form of hen is sometimes just hens. It is very individual.

Thai[edit | edit source]

See also: Glossary of Thai gender and sex terminology.

External links[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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