From Deutschewelle: Neue DW-Radioangebote für Afghanistan:

Seit heute sendet die DW via Kurzwelle tägliche Radioprogramme auf Dari und Paschtu, um Zuhörer*innen in Afghanistan gesicherte Informationen zukommen zu lassen.

I occasionally read that newspaper for a couple of years and it was the first time I've stumbled upon such a construct.

I often hear criticism that those things mess with text-to-speech readers; Is it any different in this case? Is that formal or at least common?

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    I'm confused.; isn't Zuhörer in the plural already gender neutral, meaning "listeners"?
    – RDBury
    Sep 13 at 23:18
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    Gender-neutral language is a very active and controversial phenomenon, therefore the answer to "Is XXX common?" depends very much on who you ask and what year (or even what month) it is. Ask again in 2025 and perhaps there will be a vague consensus of some sort. Sep 14 at 6:57
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    Besides discussing if this messing up of language, either read or spoken, is common one could also ask whether or not it is helpful for anything ;-) Just to widen one's mind.
    – puck
    Sep 14 at 8:11
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    @Roland: Thanks. So Zuhörer is still correct, just not the most "politically correct". Come to think of it, the DW German course Deutsch - Warum Nicht? always starts out with Liebe Hörerinnen und Hörer. Liebe Hörer*innen is shorter if nothing else.
    – RDBury
    Sep 14 at 9:44
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    @RDBury It's the same discussion as in English. Who do you imagine when I say "police" or "teacher"? A lot of scientific studies have shown that there is an inherent bias to favor a male-only interpretation - except for jobs that are "typically female". So a "kindergarten teacher" will be imagined as female but a "school principal" is predominantly interpreted as male. The supposed "gender neutral" form is only technically neutral. In practice it's the male form but other people are "mitgemeint".
    – YetiCGN
    Sep 14 at 10:57

The asterisk, colon and underscore forms of gendering (Zuhörer*innen, Zuhörer:innen, Zuhörer_innen) have become popular in academia and in left-leaning social/political environments in the last 2-3 years. They're also used, albeit a bit less commonly, in public broadcasting ("öffentlich-rechtlicher Rundfunk") and public service and governmental work. Some authorities and government bodies have recently adopted internal rules about how to use gendering.

There's also a much older form of gendering with a capital I in the middle (ZuhörerInnen) that has been around for decades, but proponents of the newer forms see it as not including non-binary gender identities.

Particularly the newer forms have become extremely politically loaded, with conservatives often opposing them strongly, and progressives often framing them as inevitable progress towards more gender justice. Arguments of both sides can be found in the extensive and hotly contested German Wikipedia article "Geschlechtergerechte Sprache".

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    I would not restrict this to "left-leaning political social environments". In practice, for example, many municipal administrations and other governmental organisations on the communal, regional or national level have introduced (mandatory) usage of the asterisk to indicate gender-neutrality. This refers especially to their publications, printed materials, forms, press releases, and official letters. - Note however that the use of asterisk (or other gender-neutrality indicators) is generally limited to "official" or "business" occasions. In private communication, it is very rare. Sep 14 at 9:31
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    @ChristianGeiselmann: I agree. That's what I meant by public service, but I agree it's especially governments as well.
    – HalvarF
    Sep 14 at 10:52
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    The fact that it is rare in private communication, as you correctly state, clearly indicates that this is a political topic, with acceptance in the general population very much wanting at this point. We'll see how it goes.
    – Ingmar
    Sep 14 at 14:11
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    @ChristianGeiselmann: Umfragen haben aber gezeigt, dass der feministische Sprachbrutalismus extrem unpopulär ist und auch unter Frauen nur von einer Minderheit befürwortet wird. Es ist die Praxis einer kleinen, sich elitär verstehenden Minderheit und gerade für bildungsferne Schichten doppelt schwierig damit umzugehen - statt inklusiv zu sein ist die Sprache sehr exklusiv und damit faktisch das Gegenteil linker Politik, auch wenn sie v.a. von sich als links verkaufenden Parteien oder Gruppierungen gepflegt wird. Auch für Zuwanderer übrigens eine Zumutung. Sep 15 at 1:05
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    @ChristianGeiselmann: surveys in Germany (like Politbarometer etc.) are really quite consistent that a majority even opposes gendering in any form, even more so for the new *_: forms. Even amongst women, even amongst supporters of the Green party. Google it, you won't find a general population survey that finds a majority supporting gendering. Regardless of how you see it, it is a project of a minority that pursues it because they think that it's the right thing to do.
    – HalvarF
    Sep 15 at 12:06

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