Articles in Die Zeit's online magazine for young people, Ze.tt, use the Gendersternchen. For example, today's article about the power of humor contains sentences such as:

  • Als Clownin verkleidet geht sie in Senior*innenheime, Krankenhäuser und auf Hospizstationen.
  • Auch die Bewegung der Klinikclown*innen stamme ursprünglich aus den USA.

The last sentence of the article is:

  • Den (Rock) hat ihr eine der Bewohner*innen im Altenheim geschenkt.

I would have thought it should be either:

  • Den hat ihr eine der Bewohnerinnen im Altenheim geschenkt

or (for sake of consistency):

  • Den hat ihr eine*r der Bewohner*innen im Altenheim geschenkt.

My question is therefore: Is there a reason why eine is not 'gendergesternchent' (for example, because it follows the rules in some style guide)?

  • 2
    It's a practical joke. It's very German to be very serious about such a laughable matter. – Janka Jun 2 '19 at 12:22
  • @Janka Actually this is really not more than a joke but unfortunately some people are very serious about this Gendersternchen. – puck Jun 2 '19 at 14:09

The whole topic of language gendering in German beyond the traditional "when in doubt, make it male" ( :D ) is largely a work in progress. So I wouldn't expect fully formed, estabished rules yet. But according to Wikipedia the Gendersternchen is used in nouns, so it wouldn't be used in "eine".

Also, the Gendersternchen is meant to show that the members of a group of people don't necessary all have the same gender. So, if we look at

Den Rock hat ihr eine der Bewohner*innen im Altenheim geschenkt.

"eine" refers to one of the residents, not the whole group. This specific resident is seemingly female (which pronouns and articles an individual prefers for themselves is a whole other can of worms that's well beyond the scope of this answer, and my expertise). On the other hand, "Bewohner*innen" refers to all the residents. Here the Gendersternchen denotes that among that group, there are possibly males, females and whatever other gender the individual identifies as.

  • 2
    In your example "eine der Bewohnerinnen" (= one of the female residents) would be completely fine without this Sternchen-nonsense. Why should a both-genders form be used if the phrase deals with a woman? – puck Jun 2 '19 at 14:08
  • Thanks. I had encountered jede*r before - why is why I asked about eine*r. But I see now that eine here 'refers to one of the residents, not the whole group' - and so eine*r would not be appropriate unless the writer wanted to conceal the gender. Nevertheless, @puck's comment is pertinent. And why not simply: eine Bewohnerin? – Shoe Jun 3 '19 at 6:38
  • @Shoe "Die Bewohnerinnen" and "die Bewohnerinnen" refer to different groups of people. Without the Gendersternchen, "die Bewohnerinnen" refers to all residents who identify as female. With the Gendersternchen, "die Bewohnerinnen" refers to all residents, regardless of gender. Whether you say, one of the first group or one of the second, is your discretion as the speaker. In your example, the author chose to refer to all residents with "Bewohner*innen". – Henning Kockerbeck Jun 3 '19 at 8:19
  • @Shoe Also, I wouldn't say that "eine*r" necessary conceals the gender. It basically leaves the question open - the person it refers to might be female, they might be male, they might be something in between, they might be something completely different we don't even have a pronoun or article for yet. – Henning Kockerbeck Jun 3 '19 at 8:21
  • Thanks. You have clarified the issue for me. It would be nice if German could be rebooted such that Bewohner, Clown, Lehrer usw. can be understood as refering to any gender. After all it works in English, and if the gender is important (and not clear from the context, e.g. by the presence of a pronoun) then male, female, intersexual, etc. can be prepended. I don't watch German TV any more, but does every ad for medical products still come with the recommendation: Fragen Sie Ihren Arzt oder Apotheker? How would you actually say: Fragen Sie Ihre*n Arzt*in oder Apotheker*in? – Shoe Jun 3 '19 at 9:02

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