The weather these days seems to have a very early summer vibe.

The trees are already full of green leaves and the daytime temperature has risen sharply, so you can easily see people wearing short-sleeved t-shirts on the street.

The reason I started today's article as a story about the weather is actually because of the 'short-sleeved tee'.

Have you ever felt uncomfortable while using the word 'short sleeves'?

Probably not.

I don't see any particular problem with the 'short-sleeved t-shirt'.

But what about when people with physical disabilities hear the word 'short sleeves'?

In fact, people with disabilities say that whenever they hear the word 'short-sleeved', they get hurt.

It would be less discriminatory to say 'short sleeve' instead of 'short sleeve'.

A crippled desk, a unicycle, trouble making decisions, etc...

Many of the words we use in our daily life contain discriminatory expressions.

Using a certain language itself can be hurtful and uncomfortable for some.

Today in Mabu News, we are going to talk about a language that we have been using without realizing it.

In particular, I focused on sexist language and gender-neutral language that is emerging to eliminate discrimination.

This is the question Mabu News asks its readers this week.

Did you know they are used as third person singular pronouns?

Wait, what is a gender-neutral language?

In 2018, the European Parliament presented a report.

The name of the report is <GENDER NEUTRAL LANGUAGE in the Parliament>.

It was created with the intention of using gender-neutral language when the European Parliament makes laws for the European Union or communicates with each other, and distributed it to members of parliament and staff.

It's kind of like a guidebook.

A typical example is this.

In the past, EU law used words with the meaning of man to express terms such as mankind and manpower, but in the future, we will use gender-neutral terms.

For example, humanity is humanity and manpower is staff.

As such, gender-neutral language means not targeting by gender.

Of course, this report is not legally binding and does not stipulate that it must be written.

This is a report made as a recommendation.

The European Parliament used gender-neutral language to convey a more fair and inclusive meaning, and to reduce gender stereotypes and achieve gender equality.

The aim of this report is to remove gender bias and discrimination from language.

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A typical gender-neutral language is They.

The grammar is changing: "Use He to refer to men, She to refer to women, and They to refer to multiple people."

They used to be used as a 3rd person plural pronoun, but recently they are also used as a 3rd person singular pronoun.

For example, using They to refer to individuals who do not know their gender or do not wish to reveal their gender.

Here, the pronoun They is also used to refer to non-binary identities that do not define gender.

In fact, the discussion of gender-neutral language is not new.

It's been going on since a long time ago.

They are used in the third person singular, and they were chosen as the word of the year by the American Language Society 7 years ago.

The Washington Post has been using They as a singular pronoun since 2015.

This usage is even listed in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the oldest dictionary in the United States.

Singer Sam Smith came out in 2019 as non-binary and asked the media to use They instead of He or She when referring to him.

Languages ​​becoming gender-neutral

Countries that speak other languages, not just English, are starting to see a little bit of gender neutrality.

In Sweden, gender-neutral personal pronouns that do not discriminate between male and female have been included in the official Korean dictionary.

In Swedish, Han is used to refer to men and Hon is used for women, and Hen is included as a pronoun to be used when the gender is not identified or confirmed, or when referring to people who have had gender reassignment surgery.

As early as the 1960s in Sweden, there has been criticism against the inclusive use of the masculine pronoun Han.

In the 2010s, as an effort for gender equality and gender neutrality, Hen, the pronoun of gender neutrality, began to be used a lot in everyday life, and Hen appeared in court decisions as well as government offices.

Finally, the Swedish Academy officially recognized it in 2015.

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Similar movements are also taking place in Germany and France.

However, the situation is slightly different between English and Swedish.

Actually, English and Swedish are relatively easy to apply as gender-neutral languages.

Because English and Swedish don't have as many gender-separated words as personal pronouns and common nouns.

However, in Germany and France, gender is included in the grammar, so it is relatively difficult to correct it.

For example, something like this.

In French, we usually add an e to a masculine noun to make it a feminine noun.

The word for a male friend is ami, while a female friend is written like this: amie.

However, there is a rule that the masculine noun takes precedence when making it into the plural.

When expressing the word 'friends', it is called amis by adding s to the masculine noun ami.

The same goes for German.

The word freundin with an in attached to freund, which means male friend, is the word for female friends, and the expression 'friends' is expressed as freunde by adding e to the masculine noun freund.

So how do we express these words in gender-neutral language?

In Germany, four main methods are used.

The masculine plural word is simply written in parallel with the feminine plural word, or a special character such as _ * / is used in between.

In France, the method of notation using the middle dot (·) is mainly used.

As in English and Swedish, it is not necessary to change just one word, but the whole language grammar needs to be changed, so the voices of those who oppose it are relatively loud.

Can language influence thinking?

You may think that it is necessary to strive for gender equality, but do we even need to change the language?

You may think that language is just one of the tools for expressing thoughts.

However, there are also findings from this study.

I once asked people who spoke German and Spanish to describe a bridge across the street.

Spanish speakers used more masculine expressions to describe their legs, such as 'strong' and 'long'.

German-speaking people, on the other hand, used words mostly used to describe women, such as 'beautiful' or 'elegant' for legs.

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Why is there such a difference?

Like German, Spanish has gender in its language.

The difference is that in German leg is a feminine noun and in Spanish leg is a masculine noun.

In other words, the perception of objects may differ depending on the gender of the language.

Language is not only a tool for expression, but it can also influence the thinking of the people who use it.

I brought a data that analyzed whether people who use sexist language lead to actual sexist perception.

This paper was published in Nature in 2020, and it is a study of gender association with data from 675,335 people from 39 countries.

There are two main types of data used here.

The first is data that quantifies the level of gender stereotypes for each language.

And the second is data that quantifies the gender stereotypes of individuals who speak each language.

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To measure the stereotype of linguistic attributes, we analyzed which words had the highest correlation between Male and Female, respectively, in Family and Career using a total of 25 languages.

If the relationship between men-occupation and women-family is greater, it is viewed as a language with strong gender stereotypes.

Here's a look at the relationship with the intrinsic association test (IAT) data, which is mainly used to identify individuals' cultural stereotypes... The result?

As can be seen from the graph above, the two data were positively correlated.

Individuals who spoke strongly gender stereotyped language had stronger gender stereotypes.

Stroller to baby car

How many sexist languages ​​are there in Korea?

Korean has a language structure that tends to be relatively gender-neutral rather than gender-studded languages ​​like German and French.

But nevertheless, you can easily find sexist language all over the Korean language.

According to the results of a study conducted by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family in 2018 on the status of sexist language expression in daily life, the proportion of people who have encountered sexist language at least once recorded more than 90% of the respondents.

In particular, the expression of discrimination regarding gender roles was the highest at 91.1%.

Examples of such words would be 'actress', 'female doctor', and 'woman policewoman', where the word 'female' is used only when referring to women.

Even in family titles, relatives on the husband's side are called 'bachelor' and 'handmaiden', but on the part of her wife, 'brother-in-law' and 'sister-in-law' are called.

When men and women are placed in parallel, men such as 'man and woman', 'son and daughter', and 'co-education' are placed first, but when using derogatory expressions, words referring to women such as 'Yeonnom' come first.

They even translate Ladies and Gentlemen with a woman in front of them as 'Ladies and Gentlemen'.

● Stroller → Baby Car

: A word that contains only women (母) and does not fit the concept of equal parenting.

A child-centered infant car can be said to be a gender-neutral language.

● Sportsmanship → Sports spirit

: A word that contains only men in the sports spirit that everyone who plays sports should have is against gender equality.

● Sisterhood relationship → Mutual relationship

: The social meaning of mutual relationship formation is expressed as a feminine relationship called 'sister'.

Discriminatory expression in that it can increase personal bias toward women

Efforts to change these sexist expressions are everywhere.

Listed above are some of the contents of the Gender Equality Language Dictionary, which the Seoul Gender Equality and Family Foundation has been running since 2018.

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is working with citizens to create and announce a gender-neutral language improvement plan.

The National Institute of the Korean Language also recommended that relatives on the wife's side be called 'nim', just like relatives on the husband's side.

Even in statutory terminology, which is used in the most conservative languages, sexist language is being replaced by gender-neutral language.

There are still sexist expressions such as 'widow' in the law.

To change this, the Korea Legislative Research Institute conducted a full investigation of the law to examine the language of discrimination.

Last month, the Ministry of Justice's Digital Sex Crimes Committee recommended that the word 'sexual shame' be changed to a gender-neutral term.

Where is gender equality in Korea?

There are still sexist expressions in sports jargon, legal jargon, and in our daily life.

The expression of sexism embedded in various parts of society may be seen as a trace left by the sexist structure of our society.

I think it is necessary to take a look at the level of gender equality in Korea, so I analyzed two related indicators.

One is the Gender Inequality Index (GII), which is provided by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), an affiliate of the United Nations, and the other is the Gender Gap Index (GGI), which is published by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

There are some differences between the two indicators. First of all, GII is an absolute evaluation score that judges what level of life a woman lives.

The GGI, on the other hand, is a relative evaluation score made with the differences between men and women.

Also, the data used is slightly different.

GGI includes socio-economic indicators.

While figures such as gender ratio within occupations, the wage gap, and the number of female ministers that can compare the status of men and women in the socio-economic field are one axis in the GGI, they are not included in the GII.

Health and education data are central to GII.

It contains data that can more directly understand women's quality of life, such as the maternal mortality ratio and the adolescent fertility rate.

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As of 2020, Korea is ranked 23rd out of 189 countries in the GII ranking.

In Asia, it ranks second after Japan.

On the other hand, GGI ranks at 102nd out of 156 countries as of 2021.

It is similar to Indonesia, Cambodia and Senegal.

Comparing to the same point in time as the GII, it ranks lower in 2020 at 108 out of 153 countries.

In a nutshell, the standard of living (GII) for women has risen to that of developed countries, but the gender gap (GGI) is still at the bottom of the world.

Even in the 2021 Gender Equality Survey, there is still a lot of perception that our society is unequal.

65.4% of women and 41.4% of men say that our society is generally unequal towards women.

In particular, more than 70% of women in their 20s and 30s answered that they live in an unequal society.

Is gender-neutral language necessary?

Can gender-neutral language play a role as a means to combat sexism?

Not a few conflicts are taking place abroad, where we are actively using and making gender-neutral languages.

In France, when the gender-neutral pronoun iel was added to the French dictionary, there was a huge controversy.

As it is actually being used, there is a strong opposition to the position that it should be added to the dictionary by reflecting the flow and the position that it will cause confusion in language grammar.

Germany is similar.

There are people who already speak gender-neutral language, but a poll last year showed that 65% of respondents expressed negative opinions about gender-neutral expressions because they were too long and uncomfortable.

There are many people who are concerned that the existing grammatical system may collapse if all the newly created languages ​​are accepted.

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This is the article prepared by Mabu News today.

Today, we looked at gender-neutral language that emerged to avoid using sexist expressions.

What are your thoughts on reading the article?

Is it correct to actively use gender-neutral language to prevent discriminatory expressions?

Or is it a waste of unnecessary social costs to even change the language?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Thank you for reading this long article today.

(*This article is an edited article from the Witchcraft Newsletter.)

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Written by

: Hye-min Ahn


: Jun -seok Ahn


: Su-min Kang, Dong-yong Kang