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In a recent question someone suggested something that I had never heard of before (Question here). The so-called

synthetic ending

The situation was as follows:

In German you have Sprecher/-in or SprecherIn to signal that there are both male and female speakers. This is a common pattern. The answer now suggested another form:

Sprecherix

with the synthetic ending -ix.

I have never seen this form before and could not find much information on it online. Does this form actually exist? Is it a new thing or has it been in the German language for a long time? Also is it common in any field to use this? Also how would it be applied to other words. Let's make some examples:

Sänger/-in -> Sängerix

Bauarbeiter/-in -> Bauarbeiterix

Are these correct applications of this concept?


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  • 1
    While this form exists, I highly doubt that this form of gender-neutral pattern will persist, since it feels too weird to be used in spoken language. But I might be just wrong. Efforts to make the Swedish language more gender-neutral, e.g. introducing neutral pronouns for situations in which the gender of a person is unknown or irrelevant, lend themselves much more to being spoken. – Dohn Joe Jul 20 '18 at 10:19
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    Imho most german readers would be either confused or would think the author to be what americans call a SJW. I would advice against using it. Also since it is not really used commonly it is hard to say what a "correct application" would be. – problemofficer Jul 20 '18 at 10:52
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    Anybody else thinking instantly about the Asterix comic books? I can't imagine this form will find it's ways into the official language. – Kinaeh Jul 20 '18 at 11:33
  • Sure it exists: “Dominatrix”. Oh wait. – Konrad Rudolph Jul 20 '18 at 16:15
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The so-called "X-Form" is a way of expressing a gender neutral form that has no resemblance to either the male or female form. It aims to include people of all genders, may they be male, female, non-binary, trans, gender-fluid or however you would like to identify yourself. Unfortunately I am not really familiar with the rules for building this form, but I would assume that the example of Sprecherix would rather be Sprechx (as this is replacing any gendered ending with the -x).

As for frequency of usage, the German wikipedia page for gender neutral language lists the "X-Form" in the section about neutralizing forms. I have to agree that it is not very commonly used in general. However groups that focus not only on the inclusion of women in language but also people that identify themselves in different ways, use either this form or one of similar inclusion level. I have also read news paper articles in the past discussing this form of gender neutral language (along with other forms).

You are also right to assume that it is relatively new development, as is the whole of gender neutral language. From Rha's answer and my own research I take that is was proposed in 2014 (or at least made aware to the public with multiple news paper articles).

  • Thanks for the clarification! Really interesting concept I've never heard of before. Also interesting on the usage, I have to save that Sprechx seems to be very hard to pronounce, or maybe my tongue is just not flexible enough. – Ben Jul 20 '18 at 9:44
  • An interesting side-note (although I am not sure there is a connection): In the past couple of years I have come across instances of the gender-neutral term Latinx to refer to both Latina and Latino. Wikipedia claims the origins of that usage date back to 2004. – njuffa Jul 21 '18 at 3:28
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To me this is quite new. I doubt that it will gain broader acceptance. I found an article from 2014 about a similar proposal but without the -i- (Example: Professx for both female and male Professor): Professorin schlägt geschlechtsneutrale x-Endungen vor

The idea is obviously that the x serves as a sort of a wildcard, so that the word comprises both female and male, and also persons that identify themselves as neither male nor female.

Initially I thought that it was taken from Latin where male consonsantic nouns ending in -tor have a female counterpart ending in -trix (Example: doctor, doctrix). But -trix is exclusively female.

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Well, I'm a born German and never heard that too. So I went to ask some friends and, of course, the Internet. But I can't find anything. I'm pretty sure that this form doesn't exist.

  • 8
    Your answer is unfortunately incorrect. This form does exist (in German it's called "neutralisierende X-Form"). I would agree that it is not used in the general public but to state that the form doesn't exist is incorrect. – QueensKnight Jul 20 '18 at 9:22
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    I agree that it is not yet officially recognized. But it definitely exist in the same sense that "umtuppern" exists although it too has no entry in the Duden. Furthermore the "Rechtschreibrat" is looking into forms of gender neutral languages and will develop official proposals until November 2018. – QueensKnight Jul 20 '18 at 10:04
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    I beg to differ. Any official rule set can never represent all aspects of a language. Dialects, youth speech, slangs, political correct speech, loanwords and many other forms of speech will always differ from the official rules. To say these forms do not exist, just because they are not in the rule book seems unreasonable to me. – QueensKnight Jul 20 '18 at 10:25
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    Morta's answer is right. This is definitively not something that a non-twisted native speaker will accept as "correct". It's not like you couldn't understand what the intended meaning is, but it's very wide in the "WTF" domain. This is as much German as "unkaputtbar" (which, ironically, despite being total bullshit, made it into the Duden, so that one is per definition legit). – Damon Jul 20 '18 at 10:31
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    @Damon, your use of "non-twisted native speaker" is a value judgement. The people who use -x are clearly trying to change language and perceptions for reasons which seem valid to them. Such a change is always controversial, but I wouldn't call the people who want the -x twisted -- even if I would not use the -x myself. – o.m. Jul 20 '18 at 12:49

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