In my Studio D A1 book, I came across this and I don't know what in of "Sprecher/in" mean in this context.

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  • 1
    Most role descriptions in movie credits etc. are gender neutral in German (as the image shows), but narrator is not. – Crissov Jul 19 '18 at 15:28

In German there can be different nouns for male or female persons. For example Sprecher and Sprecherin for a male and female speaker. Often the male term (der Sprecher) has been used as a generic expression for speaker. In the wake of gender equality discussions, different writings have been proposed to not only include the generic (often male) form but also the other form.

One possibility is the slash Sprecher/in, as in your example. It signifies that you have speakers from both genders. It is also used in the form of Sprecher/-in.

Other forms are possible but are usually present in a full text. Two more common patterns you could encounter are

  • the so-called Binnen-I: SprecherIn (more commonly used in the plural SprecherInnen)
  • the double enumeration: Sprecherin und Sprecher

There may be other forms (e.g. Binnen-Stern) which are used by different groups but you will rarely encounter them if you are not engaged such groups.

  • 4
    You could add that "Sprecher/-in" is the correct form, as it uses the hyphen as "Ergänzungsstrich". For me, actually the form "Sprecher/in" in the question is a typo. – IQV Jul 20 '18 at 6:11
  • @IQV: Both are grammatically incorrect, as "/" signifies AND or OR. Sprecher/Sprecherin is (correctly) Sprecher OR Sprecherin. Sprecher/-in is short for Sprecher OR in, whatever "in" is. – FooBar Jul 20 '18 at 9:24
  • o.m.'s answer makes my point more eloquently under "3." – FooBar Jul 20 '18 at 9:25
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    @IQV: The official spelling rules do not consider the slash to be used within a word at all, so according to that neither form is correct. – Wrzlprmft Jul 20 '18 at 12:18
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    @FooBar '-' is frequently used as an abbreviation for the root form of a word which is the current subject, and is common in dictionaries, grammar descriptions, and so on, hence why this form may be considered more correct than the version that lacks it. – Jules Jul 20 '18 at 16:15

Several things come together in this.

  1. As mentioned by QueensKnight, occupations, titles and similar nouns are given gender-dependent forms. Something similar happens in English with waiter and waitress, but it is much more prevalent in German. To list the forms for your example:
    • A male speaker is der Sprecher. This is also applied to speakers of unknown gender.
    • A female speaker is die Sprecherin.
    • A group of male, mixed, or unknown gender are die Sprecher.
    • A group of females are die Sprecherinnen.

You can notice the gender gap in this. The male form is used for females in some cases, but the female form is never used for males. More on that later.

  1. German composes words where English would simply put them one after another. The two words data processing become the composite word Datenverarbeitung. This poses a slight inconvenience when parts of the composite word are repeated. Data entry and data processing could easily be put as data entry and processing. By comparison, when Datenerfassung und Datenverarbeitung were to become Datenerfassung und Verarbeitung, it isn't quite Datenverarbeitung any more. The solution is to put in a hyphen as a sign of the ellipsis. So it becomes Datenerfassung und -verarbeitung. It is possible to replace the and or or by a slash. That would make it Datenerfassung/-verarbeitung.
    Drop the hyphen and you get Datenerfassung/verarbeitung.
    This last form is a bit too short for my taste.

  2. The movie credits in the textbook list a male and a female speaker. This would be Sprecher und Sprecherin if it was listed at full length. If you apply the same abbreviation rule as above, this would become Sprecher und -in, Sprecher/-in, Sprecher/in. However, it sounds wrong to me to use the extremely short syllable -in the first way, with an und or oder. One could say Synchronsprecher oder -sprecherin, but not Synchronsprecher oder -in (dubbing actor).

  3. Language is a matter of gender politics. As mentioned above, many women object to being subsumed under the male form, but the traditional "correct" way is rather cumbersome. This has led to two developments.

    • Several decades ago the Binnen-I (interior capital I) was popularized among others by the leftist newspaper taz. It abbreviates Sprecher und Sprecherin as SprecherIn. The Binnen-I is technically incorrect but widely recognized. A conservative would avoid it, but it is not a remarkable political statement to use it.
    • With the debate about non-binary gender, some people are using an asterisk or underscore between the syllables to represent males, females, and everything in between (Sprecher_in or Sprecher*in). As of 2018, using this is very much a political statement.

This is one of the possible variants to indicate the narrators in a gender-neutral way. Formerly Sprecher was assumed to be sufficiently neutral, but that view is on decline with loudly voiced arguments on both sides.

Other variants are SprecherIn (Binnen-I), Sprecherix (new synthetic ending) or a footnote explaining the neutrality.

  • On long texts, where the constant repetition of "Der/Die Berater und/oder Beraterin/Beraterinnen" would quicky become long-to-read, I often see a footnote on the last page explaining, that the chosen form "Berater" is supposed to mean "One or several, of any gender". Especially, if it is an old document, that has to be only be edited/updated for PC reasons, but still needs to be published on e.g. the web. – Alex Stragies Jul 19 '18 at 16:21
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    Here's a follow-up question for you: german.stackexchange.com/questions/46054/… - this question may need your answer to survive ;) – Takkat Jul 20 '18 at 9:14

As far as I know, this is a quite common form of gender-neutral writing, which pre-dates the modern forms, i.e. SprecherIn and the even more recent Sprecherix, Sprecherx, Sprecher_in.

I have seen this form (Sprecher/-in) since back in the 90's, but it may be even older.

The logic is quite simple:

Sprecher/Sprecherin gets shortened to Sprecher/-in or Sprecher/in

Take the word up to the slash (/), and optionally attach the part after the slash.

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