Posts Tagged ‘German language’

He-she-it (der-die-das) now legal for babies in Germany

November 4, 2013

The German language has long had 3 genders. The rules are deceptively simple but I did not find it easy when learning the language.

German, besides capitalizing all nouns, goes them one better and adds a third gender: neuter. The masculine definite article (“the”) is der, feminine is die, and neuter is das.

It gets confusing when a girl can be masculine as in das Madchen or a boy can be feminine (die Junge) or when the sea can be all three genders – der Ozean, das Meer, die See. The sun is feminine (die Sonne) while the moon is masculine (der Mond).

If you’re going to guess, guess der. The highest percentage of German nouns are masculine. … All German nouns, regardless of gender, become die in the nominative and accusative plural. So a noun such as das Jahr (year) becomes die Jahre (years) in the plural. Sometimes the only way to recognize the plural form of a German noun is by the article: das Fenster (window) – die Fenster (windows). 

Rivers can be masculine (der Rhein) or feminine (die Donau) but never neuter. But rivers outside Europe are always masculine! Most chemical elements are neuter but some are particularly virile and masculine (hydrogen, carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulphur and phosphorous). Names of cars are masculine (der Mercedes, der VW, der BMW) but names of motorcycles, ships and aircraft are feminine (die BMW, die Titanic, die Boeing 787).

One in about 2,000 births is a transgender birth to some extent. Germany is now the first European country to acknowledge this legally. The view is growing that the gender paradigm is not the simple dimorphic view but represents a bimodal continuum.

Gender continuum blackless et al

Gender continuum blackless et al

BBC:  Germany has become Europe’s first country to allow babies with characteristics of both sexes to be registered as neither male nor female. Parents are now allowed to leave the gender blank on birth certificates, in effect creating a new category of “indeterminate sex”.

The move is aimed at removing pressure on parents to make quick decisions on sex assignment surgery for newborns.

As many as one in 2,000 people have characteristics of both sexes.

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