German Language Blog

How do you pronounce the gender-neutral German Gendersternchen? Posted by on Jul 15, 2021 in Culture, Language, Pronunciation

Gender-neutral language is being used more and more. Some cities have started using it, the University of Leipzig decided to use the weibliche Form (feminine form) as the basic form instead of the männliche Form (male form). This led to some “erhitzte Gemüter” (raised tempers). In Germany, the discussion about the use and necessity of gendered language is far from over. But that’s a topic for another day. Today, I want to discuss the Gendersternchen (gender asterisk). Click here to read the post we wrote about it if you don’t know what I mean. But one question we left unanswered is: How do I pronounce the Gendersternchen?

What gender-neutral forms exist in German?

gender-neutral gendersternchen pronunciation

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

As a short summary, the Gendersternchen is an insertion between the German male and female forms of a gendered term to explicitly include people that identify neither as a man nor a woman. So, for example, you could say Pilot*innen (pilots). This includes Piloten, Pilotinnen and others. There are alternative ways of doing this:

  • Aufzählung (counting) or Paarform (pair form): Richter und Richterinnen
  • Schrägstrich (slash), also called Splitting:  Richter/innen
  • Binnen-I (inner I): RichterInnen
  • Gender Gap: Richter_innen
  • geschlechtsneutrale Pluralbildung (gender-neutral pluralization): Die Pilotierenden (“the piloting ones”)
  • and finally, the Gendersternchen: Richter*innen

Quite some options, and there may be more! If you know, let me know in the comments. So how do you pronounce all these?

Take a little break

Normally, a word like Richterinnen is spoken as one – the –innen is fully integrated in the word and flows straight from Richter.

RichterInnen is different. You show that there is more than simply male and female Richter by leaving a little gap between Richter and Innen. Or rather, you say the two parts of the word separately. Innen does not flow from Richter, and instead Richter is said by itself, and Innen comes after to complete the word. This is how you pronounce any of the gender-neutral plurals, so the Splitting, Gender Gap, Gendersternchen and Binnen-I all have that same pronunciation!

Personally, I find simply using the generisches Maskulin (generic masculine) plural, so the male form that encompasses any group, the easiest to use and the most straightforward. When it comes to the gender-neutral solutions, I find RichterInnen the easiest to adapt – it is basically like the female plural, and you just make the i a capital letter. With German being full of capitals anyway, that one more letter won’t come in the way!

Plus, it makes applications where other signs might look off a non-issue. Think about file naming on a computer. Splitting? Won’t work. The Gendersternchen? Nope. And the Gender Gap _ is used already as a space if multiple words need to form a single, long string of characters. Again, something that might occur with file naming. Just using a capital letter, which is already available to you anyway, doesn’t really get in the way!

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About the Author: Sten

Hi! I am Sten, both Dutch and German. For many years, I've written for the German and the Dutch blogs with a passion for everything related to language and culture. It's fascinating to reflect on my own culture, and in the process allow our readers to learn more about it! Besides blogging, I am a German-Dutch-English translator, animator and filmmaker.


  1. Sarah Hudson:

    A very informative post! Particularly like the audio clip. I’ve done my own bit of research on the subject which I summarised on the following blog post