In the latest edition of Dikke Van Dale, the great lexicon of the Dutch language, a large number of words referring to people are given a gender-neutral “x” in addition to the “m” and “v”.
The new addition appears in nearly 15,000 words. It’s all about “accompanying words” that refer to a person, but don’t necessarily refer to a biological gender, according to Van Dale. For example: the minister, the footballer, the hero, the baker, or the criminal. Words that clearly indicate a biological gender, such as litter man, nun, father, or maternity woman, do not change anything. These words only retain an (m) or (v).
According to Van Dale, the change in the new edition of the dictionary, which will be published on March 22, is “the result of changing views in society, which means that language use is changing with it.” “An increasing number of people are no longer referring to a specific gender by professional and other personal names, and are using gender-inclusive options in their everyday use of language.”
Bieke Purnelle, director of RoSa, the Knowledge Center for Gender and Feminism, calls it a logical step. “It is important that a normative work like Dikke Van Dale reflects society and reality and not the other way around.”
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