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German ministers crack down on 'gender neutral' language in universities

German ministers have cracked down on 'gender neutral' language in universities as a culture war rages against the use of male and female nouns. 

Last month, nine German universites including Konstanz and Stuttgart released common guidelines which gave advice to staff and students on how to avoid the use of masculine and feminine forms of nouns.

However, Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder, 54, has slammed the new gender neutral language regulations at universities as 'indoctrination'.

He has also ordered a review into the contents of the guides saying that language cannot be 'prescribed' and that students who do not use the new terminology should not be marked down.

German Minister Markus Söder, 54, (pictured) has slammed the new 'gender neutral' language guidelines published by universities as 'indoctrination'

The special language guides warned against the use of male forms of words to refer to groups of men and women - which has been traditionally used in German to address groups in general.

Speaking to local newspaper, Augsburger Allgemeine, Mr Söder, who is also the leader of the Christian Social Union (CSU) party, said that it would be intolerable if academics were to mark down students who failed to use the new gender conventions.

He slammed the newly published advice by universities as 'indoctrination', and warned that the terminology could lead to referring to a mother and father as 'parent one and parent two'.

'It's not on,' he said. 'Bavaria is a free state, not an indoctrination state. Anyone may use language however they want but everyone should make sure to show sensitivity and respect in their language.' 

He continued: 'At the end of the day, it's not on for language to be prescribed. We can't end up with a kind of gender law or gender violation notices.

'You should be able to go on saying' mother and father. You don't have to say parent one and parent two. I don't want to be addressed by my children as parent.' 

He has also ordered a review into the contents of the guides adopted by nine German universities last month, saying that language cannot be 'prescribed' and that students who do not use the new terminology should not be marked down. Pictured: University of Stuttgart

German, like many other languages, has masculine and feminine forms for thousands of words but in recent years, many left-wing institutions and public bodies have begun to adopt hybrid terms in order to be 'gender-neutral'.  

For example, according to The Times, voters can be referred to as either Wähler (male voters) or Wählerinnen (female voters), with the masculine, Wähler, normally used to refer to voters in general.

However, a new hybrid term, Wählende (voting persons), has been coined to address voters in general, to avoid using the male form.

The policy shift in language use has been criticised by conservative groups as an ideologically driven imposition, with the German Language Society issuing a 'call to resistance' against the 'ridiculous language structures' and 'gender nonsense'.

At the CSU party conference that took place in Nuremberg last weekend, 96 per cent of members voted in favour of a motion condemning 'politically indoctrinating, artificial excesses of gender-moralising language acrobatics' in public bodies and educational institutions.

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