Wiener Slawistischer Almanach Band 84/2019

Language Policies in the Light of Antidiscrimination and Political Correctness

by Dennis Scheller-Boltz (Volume editor) Tilmann Reuther (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 400 Pages
Series: Wiener Slawistischer Almanach, Volume 84


What is identity and how do we construct identity? Why do we have to deconstruct identities again? And what is the role that language policy measures and anti-discriminatory actions play in this process? This volume deals with the topic of identity formation in the Slavic region. It opens with an extensive general introduction to the topic of identity. In its core part, measures meant to enable politically correct speech and anti-discriminatory language are presented for different Slavic languages and cultural spheres. Political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism play an important role in the Slavic region when it comes to influencing language and the use of language. Three additional papers concern Ukrainian-Russian mixed speech and textology of literary works in Russian.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Titel
  • Copyright
  • Autorenangaben
  • Über das Buch
  • Zitierfähigkeit des eBooks
  • Dennis Scheller-Boltz (Berlin), Preface
  • Dennis Scheller-Boltz (Berlin), Political Correctness, Antidiscrimination, and Antisexism in Slavonic Languages
  • Heiko Motschenbacher (Bergen), Methods in Language, Gender and Sexuality Studies: An Overview
  • Kinga Koźmińska (Oxford/Birkbeck/London), Language and Ideology
  • Oksana Havryliv (Wien/Lviv), Aspekte sprachlicher Gewalt
  • Magdalena Steciąg (Zielona Góra), Polka walcząca! The Language of Women’s Demonstrations and the Discussion about Political Correctness
  • Lujza Urbancová (Banská Bystrica), Feminist Impulses in Slovak Linguistics
  • Alla Arkhanhelska / Marianna Dilai / Olena Levchenko (Olomouc/L’viv), Linguistic Research on Gender in Ukraine
  • Jelena Filipović / Ana Kuzmanović Jovanović (Belgrade), Serbian Gender Linguistics
  • Lujza Urbancová (Banská Bystrica), Slovak: Gender-Balanced and Gender-Neutral
  • Marilena Felicia Luţă (Ţiprigan/Bucharest), Slovak Pride and Prejudice in Gender-Related Issues
  • Jana Valdrová (Innsbruck), Masculine Generics in Czech
  • Vít Kolek / Dennis Scheller-Boltz (Olomouc/Berlin), The Use and Perception of Masculine Generics in Czech, German, and Polish: A Cognitive Study
  • Irena Masojć (Vilnius), (A)Symetria żeńskich i męskich form adresowanych w polskim dyskursie medialnym na Litwie
  • Kristina Rutkovska (Wilna), Żeńskie nazwy osobowe w warunkach wielojęzyczności i wielokultorowości: ujęcie etnolingwistyczne
  • Saška Štumberger (Ljubljana), Personenbezeichnungen für Frauen in slowenischen Texten
  • Алла В. Кирилина (Moсква), Современные тенденции развития русского лексикона в сфере обозначения лиц женского пола и видов сексуальности
  • Vít Kolek (Olomouc), Options for Labelling Non-heteronormative People in a German-Czech Comparison
  • Sorin Paliga (Bucharest), “Paní Nováčková” should be translated as “Mrs. Nováčková” or “Mrs. Nováček”? An inquiry into the problem of feminine family names and issues related to maintaining – non-maintaining the initial feminine gender in translation
  • Олеся Палинская (Oldenburg), Метаязыковые рефлексии носителей украинско русской смешанной речи
  • Михаил Михеев (Москва), Сфера интимного – или то, что нельзя забыть? (Разбирая дневники Александра Гладкова)
  • Wolfgang Eismann (Graz), Старые и новые фразеологизмы и их употрбление в романе Воктора Пелевина "iPhuck 10"
  • Reihenübersicht

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From 21 until 24 March 2018, the Vienna University of Economics and Business (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien) hosted the symposium «Language Policies in the Light of Antidiscrimination and Political Correctness: Tendencies and Changes in the Slavonic Languages». It welcomed 33 researchers who dedicated their talks to the development in the field of antidiscrimination in and throughout language in nine Slavonic languages. This volume at hand is the result of this symposium.

It is no coincidence that the symposium and the publication of this volume happen at this point in time. While it is true that from a long-term perspective, the exposure of Slavonic societies to concepts such as political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism is a recent phenomenon, it is also true that said societies have witnessed these concepts rise to prominence in the past few years. As a consequence, awareness for the role and relevance of language in the context of discrimination and sexism has grown. Linguistic structures and language use have come under increasing scrutiny and been subjected to critical evaluation. Language policies have been suggested that aim at a more balanced representation of different societal groups and categories – women and men in particular. Thus, the field of linguistic strategies to counter antidiscrimination and antisexist language and their impact on the evolution of language and language use provide ample material for linguistic research. Without doubt, this is an area to which linguists should dedicate their attention.

The objective of this volume is to inspire and motivate such scholarly efforts. It offers an overview of (the latest) research findings. It takes stock of the current state of scholarly work completed in the field of political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism in Slavonic languages. However, this volume does not stop there. It asks new questions and thus helps to open up new ways for research and to establish innovative and appropriate research methods.

* * *

At this point, I would like to express my gratitude to a range of people and institutions that have contributed to the realisation of the symposium and of the publication of this book.

For their support, I thank: the Austrian Association of Slavicists (Österreichische Gesellschaft für Slawistik), the Austrian Research Association (Österreichische Forschungsgemeinschaft), Vienna – City of Research / Department of ←7 | 8→Cultural Issues MA 7 (Kulturabteilung der Stadt Wien MA 7), the Vienna University of Economics and Business (Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien).

I also wish to thank for their help and support: Stefan Boltz, Ann Coady, Julia Della Mea, John Eason, Samuel Gray, Angelika Hechtl, Charlotte Khan, Alla Kirilina, Vít Kolek, Marek Łaziński, Heinrich Pfandl, Renate Rathmayr, Elisabeth Rubak, Tatiana Stadler, Dorothea Toptemel, and Jana Valdrová.

A special thank-you goes to the editors of the Wiener Slawistischer Almanach, Tilmann Reuther and Aage A. Hansen-Löve, for having given me the opportunity of publishing the contributions from the symposium in this journal.

Last but not least, I would like to thank all contributors of these proceedings for their interesting and important articles and, in particular, for their cooperation and patience, which made these proceedings in these times and under the given circumstances possible.

At the end, I would like to mention that these proceedings have undergone peer review and critical proof-reading. Nonetheless, it is inevitable that mistakes remain. Every contributor assumes responsibility for all remaining mistakes, for possibly missing or incorrect references, and for potential equivocality contained in their paper.

Thank you all very much!

Dennis Scheller-Boltz

May 2020

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Dennis Scheller-Boltz


Antidiscrimination: An Introduction

It took a good while, to be honest, for political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism to finally arrive in the Slavonic-speaking countries. In many Western countries – particularly in Canada, Germany, Great Britain, and in the United States – these concerns have been topical since at least the 1960s/1970s and have by no means lost any of their potential to ignite explosive debate and controversy. This is due inter alia to the fact that all three concepts are continuously being expanded and adapted to the respective society and the ongoing development and needs of those societies. Questions of racist or Nazi-connotated language, of increasing the visibility of women or of promoting equal treatment of men and women through language are by no means the only issues under debate today. As part of the increased public awareness of gender and identity diversity – and the ultimate increase in societal diversity – over the past few decades, gender identities and sexualities are also being discussed in terms of political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism. There is increasing discussion around what contribution language can – and should – make, and around what language ultimately needs to do in order to render the heterogenous, increasingly diverse gender identities and sexualities visible, and to do justice to the diversity within society by reflecting that diversity through language. To this very day, many societies still render non-straight identities invisible through language. This type of linguistic repression – this failure to reflect these identities – enables social marginalisation to happen.

Queerness is an essential identity characteristic that is explicitly included in the present discussion around political correctness and antidiscrimination (see Motschenbacher in this volume). And it is precisely queer identities that clearly reveal to us that language both holds an enormous potential, and that such potential is not frequently used, let alone exhaustively exploited (see Koźmińska in this volume). Examples of pronouns in English show what great potential language holds. Today, there are numerous pronouns – King (2014) terms them fuzzy pronouns – that enable gender-neutral language use. These include personal pronouns ←9 | 10→in the nominative and accusative case: s/hehim/her, eem, eyem, huhum, pehpehm, perper, thonthon, vever, xexem, yoyo, zehir/zir/zem, zemer, zhezhim, possessive pronouns in attributive und predicative position: eireirs, hushus, peh’speh’s, perpers, thonsthons, visvis, xyrxyrs, hirhirs, zerzers, zirzirs, zeszes, zherzhers, and reflexive pronouns: emself, eirself, humself, pehself, perself, thonself, verself, xemself, hirself, zemself, zirself, zhimself. The form of address Mx also merits mention in this context: MrMrsMsMx (Ehrlich / King 1998; Livia 1999; Pauwels 1998). In addition, teachers in Australia and Canada are encouraged to address pupils with appropriate pronouns or to refer to them in an appropriate manner and to communicate in a gender-neutral, identity-sensitive manner. The pronouns listed above may perhaps appear extravagant and idiosyncratic at first glance, but they are becoming manifestly more common. After all, the personal pronoun they has long since ceased to just refer to ‛they-pl’, and instead also stands for ‛one-sg’ thus replacing the sexist he: e.g., If someone would like to join the party, they are welcome. The same applies to the pronoun thon ῾that one᾿. The use of pronouns in the indefinite singular is nowadays also common in official and academic texts. How the above new pronouns will develop, and be used, still remains to be seen.

Similar mention should be made of the gender-neutral personal pronoun hen ῾one᾿ in Swedish, an artificial creation that has spread very quickly and is today an equivalent way – alongside han ‛he’ and hon ‛ she’ – of signalling gender neutrality or unknown gender.

A similar development can be observed in German. Nowadays there are numerous spellings of person nouns that are both gender-egalitarian and gender-neutral (cf. Arends et al. 1985; Elmiger et al. 2017; Gallmann 1991; Greve et al. 2002; Häberlin et al. 1992; Homberger 1993; Kegyes 2005; Kolek 2018; Mairhofer / Posch 2017; Scheller-Boltz 2018a, 2014, 2013; Scott 2009; Thiel 2014; Wierlemann 2002). The binary, gender-egalitarian spellings include: pair forms (e.g., Sekretärin und Sekretär ῾female secretary and male secretary᾿, Ministerinnen und Minister ῾female ministers and male ministers᾿, Er oder sie möchte sich dringend melden! ῾he or she should give me a call asap᾿), bracket forms (e.g., Sekretär(in) ῾secretary᾿, Pol(inn)en) ῾Poles᾿), slash forms (e.g., Pol/inn/en ῾Poles᾿, Er/Sie möchte sich an seine/ihre Ansprechperson wenden ῾he/she should call his/her contact᾿, der/die Mitarbeiter/in ῾colleague᾿), and interior-I forms (e.g., SekretärInnensecretaries᾿, MitarbeiterIn ῾colleague᾿). By contrast, gender neutrality is created through alternative spellings (Hornscheidt 2008; hornscheidt 2012; Scheller-Boltz 2014). These include: participative forms (e.g., Studierende ῾students᾿, Mitarbeitende ῾staff members᾿, Besuchende ῾visitors, guests᾿), neutral forms (e.g., der Vorstand ῾management᾿, der Vorsitz ῾chair᾿, das Ministerium ῾ministry᾿), plural forms (e.g., alle ῾all᾿ ← *jeder ῾every᾿), paraphrasing (e.g., wer herstellt (*der Hersteller), ist dazu verpflichtet, … ῾who produces (*the producer) ←10 | 11→is required to…᾿), rewording (e.g., der Vorschlag wurde zurückgewiesen ῾the proposal has been rejected᾿), static underscores (e.g., Verkäufer_innen ῾sellers᾿, Minister_in ῾minister᾿, Student_inn_en ῾students᾿), dynamic underscores (e.g., Stude_ntinnen ῾students᾿, M_itarbeiterinnen ῾colleagues᾿, Minist_erin ῾minister᾿), the use of tildes (e.g., Student~innen ῾students᾿), the use of asterisks (e.g., Minister*in ῾fe*male minister᾿), x-forms (e.g., Studierx ῾students᾿, Mitarbeitx ῾staff members᾿, Ministx ῾ministers᾿), the use of the generic feminine (e.g., Studentinnen ῾female students᾿, Mitarbeiterinnen ῾female staff members᾿), “non-androgendering feminisation” (hornscheidt 2012, 315) (e.g., bürga ῾citizens᾿), yke- forms (e.g., hat yke trykes freundykes gesehen? ῾has someone seen their friend᾿ – hornscheidt 2012, 307), neuter forms (e.g., das Arzt ῾doctor᾿ – Pusch 1985, 1984). There are also various pronouns available to enable gender neutral-lity: nin, x, sie _ er, si_er, er_sie, sier, sier*, yke/tryke (e.g., yke hat sich verletzt one has hurt oneself, someone has hurt themselves᾿), *, ein_e, eine*, ein_yke, frau/man, frau (hornscheidt 2012). As a continuation of this type of language use and of the process of rethinking language from a gender-emancipatory perspective, it is customary in contemporary German to advertise vacant positions in gender-neutral language. The use of the Gender-Sternchen (῾the little gender asterisk’) is encouraged for this purpose.

Wir suchen Verstärkung […] Für unser ca. 12-köpfiges Redaktionsteam suchen wir ab sofort Volontär*in und Redakteur*in (Voll-/Teilzeit), freie Redakteure*innen (Journalist 09/2017, 9).

‘We are looking for new staff […] We are looking for volunteers, editors (full-time/part-time) and freelance editors for our ca. 12-strong editorial team (Journalist 09/2017, 9).’

Although the addendum m/f/d (male/female/diverse) is also becoming increasingly popular, one can ask whether this usage actually reinforces the generic masculine by only superficially adding gender-inclusive terms.

[…] ist die Stelle eines wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeiters (m/w/d) post-doc zu besetzen. […]

‘The position of a post-doc research assistant (m/f/d) is vacant.’

Linguistic discrimination as a form of verbal aggression (Bonacchi 2017), hate speech (Butler 1998), or hurtful actions and disrespect via language (Herrmann et al. 2007) is when linguistic expressions or the requirements of a language system disadvantage, degrade, or insult the characteristics or traits of a person or group of people that are outside the ideologically established norm and thus outside prototypical mainstream society (see Havryliv in this volume). Discrimination ←11 | 12→is therefore a hypernym that includes political incorrectness and sexism. Political incorrectness is a form of discrimination that disadvantages and insults a person or group of people on the grounds of their skin colour, gender, sexual orientation, origin, or state of health through use of inadequate terms. As a “structural form of discrimination” (hornscheidt 2012, 50), sexism involves the discrimination, disadvantaging, and insulting of a person or group of people based on their gender identity or sexual orientation. Concepts and expectations of a person's role, function, and behaviour are linked to a person’s biological sex on account of dominant existing gender stereotypes, and people are defined and negatively depicted solely due to their biological sex – which effectively entails reducing a person to their mere gender (Cameron 1998; Doyle 1998; Hellinger / Pauwels 2007a, 2007b; Kirilina 1999; Kramarae 1981; Pauwels 2010, 1998). Similarly, Kersten-Pejanić (2016) sees sexism as being socially constructed, ideologically-based differentiation between men and women, by which primarily women – but also men – experience discrimination on account of their traits.

Sexism in Language

It is important to distinguish between traditional and contemporary sexism. Traditional sexism – also known as overt sexism (Mills 2012, 2008) – emphasises gender differences, a belief in the inferiority and subservience of women, and the perpetuation of traditional roles, functions, and duties. Contemporary sexism takes as its point of departure the equality already achieved between men and women by denying the existence of any discrimination, by voicing objections to privileges and by refusing to entertain any call for equal treatment (Six-Materna 2008, 123-124).

Nowadays, however, non-heterosexual people are also the victim of sexist acts (heterosexism), as heterosexuality continues to be deemed the norm in many societies (Tin 2008; Wolfe 1988).

Linguistic discrimination or sexism is expressed in different ways (Hellinger / Pauwels 2007b). Mills (2008) differentiates between overt sexism and indirect sexism. Overt sexism denotes the use of lexemes, word forms, or meanings that deliberately evoke sexual innuendo, degrade, stigmatise, and depict people based on their gender, identity, or sexual orientation. Mills includes non-identity-related person names (e.g., policeman), generic masculines of any kind, sexualised insults (e.g., bitch, fag), unequal paired forms with semantic deviation (e.g., Casanovaslut), or stereotypes relating to speech (Cameron 1998; Dąbrowska 2008; Hornscheidt 2009; Pauwels 1998; Scheller-Boltz 2013). McConnell-Ginet adds:

By SEXIST SEMANTICS I mean not only such phenomena as the sexualization and homogenization of words denoting women (e.g., mistress and girl) and the universalization of words originally denoting men (e.g., guys) but also ←12 | 13→subtler aspects of the relative absence of a ‘women’s-eye view’ in the most readily accessible linguistic resources. What I mean by SEXIST DISCOURSE also goes beyond the more blatant kinds of male oppression of women in conversation [...]. More generally, [...] in how sex differences [I would now emphasize gender ideologies and social practice] influence both communication and interpretation in discourse (McConnell-Ginet 2011, 170).

Indirect sexism – or as Lazar (2005) terms it, subtle sexism – is, for Mills, the sexism often used sarcastically in media and advertising, “since it both challenges overt sexism and keeps it in play” (Mills 2008, 134). According to Mills, indirect sexism is subtle and difficult to immediately perceive it as such, since it only comes to the surface implicitly, without any explicit intention. It is generated through humour and jokes, presuppositions, metaphors, collocations, and androcentric perspectives of narration (Jaffé / Riedel 2011; Jule 2008; Mills 2012; Mills / Mullany 2011; Pauwels 1998, esp. 68-77).

Linguistic sexism can produce varying effects, as shown by Mills in the woman / man context:

[I]t may alienate female interlocutors and cause them to feel that they are not being addressed; […] it may be one of the factors which may cause women to view themselves in a negative or stereotyped way. It may thus have an effect on the expectations women and men have of what women can do; […] it may confuse listeners, both male and female (for example, as to whether a true generic noun or pronoun is being used or a gender-specific one) (Mills 1995, 95).

It should be noted that language is a neutral medium and is not per se discriminatory. Language as a system cannot be androcentric, discriminatory, or heteronormative (Scheller-Boltz 2020, 2017a). It is the way in which a language is used that makes it a discriminatory medium, since the language system offers the means to avoid discriminatory language use, yet such means are often neglected (Cameron 1998, 94; Hornscheidt 2009, 251; Kusterle 2011, 33-36). In addition, a lexical entity cannot in and of itself be discriminatory or sexist. It is the concrete manner in which language is treated, the semantic annotation of lexemes and the intention behind language use that determine whether language use is discriminatory (Hellinger 2004, 276; Reiss 2007, 34).

Language Policies

Language policy measures regarding political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism are primarily bottom-up processes. The bottom-up process begins in mainstream society and is linked to specific events or instances of language abuse and problem areas, which are then publicly denounced. One instance that springs ←13 | 14→to mind is the societal demand to refrain from using the word mademoiselle ῾miss᾿ in French (Coady 2014), a term which has now fallen into disrepute, and the homologous use of le professeur and la professeur ῾teacher᾿. In German, Fräulein ῾miss᾿ is no longer used today.

The bottom-up processes are followed by top-down processes initiated by authorities, research groups, and language experts, for the purposes of organised language management. This top-down process involves authorities picking up on the demands for linguistic equality within a society, discussing the measures required and the options of modifying language, and tailoring them to the given societal reality. Authorities in this context are the different institutions (and, occa-sionally, individuals) who enforce various measures based on their respective competencies and areas of responsibility, with varying degrees of effectiveness and impact. Ideally it is a state or a state institution that acts as an authority, as a force supporting positive societal change. It can prescribe its citizens certain types of language use by enacting the appropriate legislation. For instance, in Western countries such as Germany and Austria, it is now legally stipulated that job advertisements must be gender-neutral, and in Canada, antisexist measures are a legal requirement for the entire labour market to ensure equal opportunities independent of gender. In some states, such as Austria, Germany or India, genders outside the binary male/female system can now be specified in official forms (cf. Kirilina 2015; Scheller-Boltz 2013). The governments of Austria and Canada have also removed the gender bias in the lyrics of their national anthems (Austria: previous version: Heimat bist du großer Söhne ῾homeland are you of great sons᾿ → new version: Heimat großer Töchter und Söhne ῾homeland of great daughters and sons᾿, Canada: previous version: True patriot love in all thy sons command → new version: True patriot love in all of us command). Canada’s antidiscrimination reforms also have an impact on the names of courses and subjects taught in educational institutions, as it now is illegal for them to contain any discriminatory wordings or evoke such associations.

In addition, language policy measures that have been discussed and decided are reflected in directives and guidelines on gender-inclusive language use (Elmiger 2009, 2000; Elmiger / Wyss 2000; Frank / Treichler 1989; Trömel-Plötz 1982; Wetschanow 2017). Various authoritative institutions are creating and publishing directives and guidelines intended to develop language users’ awareness of gender-inclusive language use and to provide linguistic alternatives. For instance, transnational political institutions such as the Council of Europe, UNESCO, the UN, and the European Union have drawn up guidelines on the non-sexist use of language (Hellinger 2004, 1997; Hellinger / Bierbach 1993; Hellinger / Pauwels 2007b; Kegyes 2005; Kersten-Pejanić 2016; Mills 2008, 1995; Rajilić / Kersten-Pejanić 2010; Voglmayr 2008, cf. also Pauwels 2010). However, guidelines are also issued by state-level political institutions, including government ministries ←14 | 15→(Braun 2000, cf. also Dietrich 2000; Hellinger 1981; Pauwels 1997). Moreover, media outlets, companies, universities, public offices, and associations have corresponding departments (e.g., equal opportunities officers, office for equal opportunities issues) that both encourage their employees to choose gender-inclusive language use and generally provide information on non-discriminatory language use (cf. Braun 2000; Häberlin et al. 1992; Hellinger 1990; Nissen 2002; Schärer 2008).

Antidiscrimination in Slavonic Languages

The situation is somewhat different in the Slavonic-speaking countries. Political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism are increasingly determining the political and social discourse, and there is a growing awareness of non-discriminatory use of language. Current outstanding examples can be found in Croatian and Slovene, which have highly varied, intensively promoted gender-related language policies and language planning measures (Kersten-Pejanić 2018, 2016, 2015a, 2014a, 2014b; Savić 2005, 2002; Štumberger 2015). In many other Slavonic languages, however, no such development has yet taken place. Firstly, they generally lack any bottom-up process, as the demand for politically correct language use does not, or only very rarely, come from within the given society and its demands. Secondly, the top-down processes are underdeveloped in comparison to many Western countries. In numerous cases in many Slavonic languages, it would appear that the spread of political correctness is merely an adoption of Western models. Nagórko (1998) indirectly supports this assumption when she says that, for instance, the pair form aptekarz i aptekarka seems rather Western in Polish, and thus looks more like a Western borrowing than appearing Polish (cf. also Małocha-Krupa 2010a).

As regards Belarusian, Bosnian, Bulgarian, and Ukrainian, the rejection of – or at least huge scepticism towards – politically correct language use can be justified by the fact that research on these topics is not sufficiently available, promoted, and/or funded. Here, there is little focus on issues around gender, identity, and sexuality. As a result, research in the respective countries also has less societal impact. Furthermore, the authorities concerned do not seek to implement research findings within society.

Polish and Serbian are currently experiencing a paradigm shift in issues of language, political correctness, and antisexism.

And while there is a great deal of work on gender, identity, and sexuality in Russian today, the research results are not made public, society is not confronted with the issues in any form whatsoever, and many aspects still meet with scepticism or even loathing, including at the political level. As a result, there are very disparate levels of societal awareness of gender-inclusive or gender-neutral language ←15 | 16→use – primarily to ensure political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism – to this day.

Regardless of what antidiscrimination and antisexism trends in the individual Slavonic languages there may be, it must be said that they are currently still a fairly new trend, so whatever developments are taking place and whatever progress has so far been achieved cannot be compared in the slightest with the situation in many Western countries (cf. Hellinger / Bußmann 2003, 2002, 2001; Hellinger / Motschenbacher 2015). The Slavonic-speaking countries are also very heterogenous. The degree of understanding for antidiscrimination varies depending on differing societal structures, differing external influences, in some cases on nationalism – as can be seen in Serbia, for instance (Rajilić 2015) – and due to membership or non-membership of the European Union, or for political reasons. Consequently, in terms of political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism, the individual countries have not followed each other and developed in a uniform direction (cf. Scheller-Boltz 2020 on Poland and Russia). The promotion and propagation of antidiscriminatory language also differs on account of these very conditions. This is mainly due to the fact that in many Slavonic countries, such as Poland (Małocha-Krupa 2018, 2016; Małocha-Krupa et al. 2013; Scheller-Boltz 2020), Russia (Kirilina 2015; Krongauz 1996; Scheller-Boltz 2020, 2018b, 2015b, 2015c), Serbia (Blagojević 2005, 2002; Hentschel 2003; Kersten-Pejanić et al. 2012; Rajilić 2016, 2015; Rajilić / Kersten-Pejanić 2010; Savić 1985), and Ukraine (Maerčik et al. 2017), society is still quite divided on such issues, meaning that the non-discriminatory use of language is neither uniform nor consistent. Sexism is also rarely associated with language, and/or Slavonic languages are not always seen as sexist, despite being highly androcentric (see for Bulgarian Stojanova / Trajkova 2010, for Polish Bobrowski 2014; Dąbrowska 2008; Dembska 2012; Graff 2016; Handke 1994a, 1994b; Jaworski 1989, 1986; Karwatowska / Szpyra-Kozłowska 2010; Leszczyńska 2001; Łapniewska 2016; Łaziński 2006; Małocha-Krupa 2018, 2015, 2011b, 2009; Miemietz 1996, 1993; Osadnik 2014; Scheller-Boltz 2020; Szpyra-Kozłowska / Karwatowska 2004a, 2003; Weiss 1991a, 1991b, 1985; Witosz 2010; Zadykowicz-Skwirosz 2016; Zdunkiewicz-Jedynak 2011; Zygmunt 2009, for Russian Tafel 1997, for Czech and Slovak Komanická 2009, for Croatian and Serbian Savić 2002, cf. also Kolek 2018; Mairhofer / Posch 2017; Mills 2008, 42; Scheller-Boltz 2018b, 2017b, 2017c; Wierlemann 2002). These language communities thus view the concepts of antidiscrimination and antisexism very heterogeneously, and take greatly varying measures to implement them (Doleschal 2002). Linguistic antidiscrimination plays a prominent role today in Croatian (Kersten-Pejanić 2018, 2016, 2015a, 2015b, 2014a, 2014b; Kersten-Pejanić et al. 2012; Pycia 2007; Rajilić / Kersten-Pejanić 2010, cf. also Savić 2002, 1985), Czech (Arkhangel’ska 2011; Lazar 2016; Valdrová 2015, 2013, 2003, 2002, cf. also the critiques in Kolek / Valdrová 2017; Valdrová ←16 | 17→et al. 2010), Slovak (Molnár Satinská / Valentová 2016), and Slovene (Doleschal 2015a, 2015c, 2010, 2003, 2002; Štumberger 2015). It is already common practice in these languages to use non-discriminatory, non-sexist language. Various forms of naming are well established in these languages or are at least common, although sometimes in a context- and addressee-dependent manner. In other countries, such as Poland, non-sexist, non-discriminatory language is slowly becoming established. An understanding for such language use has not yet fully pervaded society, and a majority of Slavonic-speaking societies are still either sceptical of it or completely opposed to it. Yet, the general public and the media do frequently discuss all forms of antidiscrimination and antisexism – meaning that there is at least an increased awareness of, and focus on, these issues. Other countries, such as Belarus and Russia, attach little or no relevance to antidiscrimination and antisexism in public life or academic research.

Yet, let us take a closer look at selected Slavonic languages:


Croatian has developed greatly in terms of non-discriminatory and non-sexist language in recent years. In contemporary Croatian, gender suffixation, for instance, is quite common (e.g., profesorica, suplentica, doktorica), and the language has numerous other gender-neutral forms of designation that are increasingly more common. Situations vacant are usually advertised in gender-neutral terms or, as a minimum, a gender-inclusive supplement (m/ž ‛male/female’) is appended beside the generic masculine (Barić 1989, 1988; Bukarica 1999; Glovacki-Bernardi 2012; Kersten-Pejanić 2018, 2015a; Kersten-Pejanić et al. 2012, Motschenbacher / Weikert 2015; Pycia 2007, cf. also Rajilić / Kersten-Pejanić 2010; Savić 2002, 1985; Scheller-Boltz 2015a). Queer spellings e.g., using an underscore or slash, are also increasing in frequency (Kersten-Pejanić 2018, 2014b). Many players, including politicians, academia, civil society, and the media, actively support linguistic reforms.


In Czech – like in Slovak –, women have always been made visible through language: e.g., inženýrinženýrka, dirigentdirigentka, stavitelstavitelka, architektarchitektka, ministrministryně, soudcesoudkyně, sochařsochařka, sociologsocioložka, pedagogpedagožka, filologfiloložka, romanistaro-manistka, průvodceprůvodkyně, fotograffotografka (Archangel’skaja 2014; Arkhangel’ska 2011; Čmejrková 2003; Dembska 2012, 2009; Doleschal 2015b; Gladrow 1996; Lazar 2016; Molnár Satinská / Valentová 2016; Nádeníček 2013; ←17 | 18→Neščimenko 2009; Oberpfalcer 1933a, 1933b; Siatkowska 2012; Valdrová 2015, 2013, 2003, 2002; Valdrová et al. 2010).

Czech speakers have completely accepted such feminine nouns as doktorka ‘female doctor’, starostka ‘female mayor‘, ministryně ‘female minister’, poslankyně ‘female deputy’, psycholožka ‘female psychologist’, and filoložka ‘female philologist’, all of which were hardly used a few decades ago (Čmejrková 2003, 41).

This also includes person nouns referring to stereotypical male professions or roles (e.g., vojákyně ῾female soldier᾿, poručice ῾female lieutenant᾿, generálka ῾female general᾿). Even non-Czech family names undergo gender suffixation: e.g., Gándhíová, Grafová, Spearsová, Clintonová, Beauvoirová (Valdrová 2002). By contrast, the non-use of feminine person names in a female context is widely found unacceptable (Čmejrková 2003). Noun-noun compounds as used in Russian: женщина-депутат or Ukrainian: дослiдник-жiнка are not common in Czech either (Čmejrková 2003, 43). Furthermore, splitting forms are becoming an increasingly popular means of ensuring gender-inclusive language – especially in job advertisements (Čmejrková 2003; Valdrová 2013).

However, Valdrová (2015, 2013, 2003) and Valdrová et al. (2010) perceive a conflict between traditionalism and innovation taking place in Czech today (cf. also Kolek / Scheller-Boltz and Valdrová in this volume). Although gender suffixation is a typical feature of Czech, the generic masculine is gaining more and more ground (cf. Nádeníček 2013; Ohnheiser 2006). In official texts in particular, one encounters feminine person nouns less frequently, as the masculine remains the norm whenever an undetermined gender and undetermined persons are being discussed (Čmejrková 2003; Lazar 2016; Lehečková 2000, cf. for Slovak Cviková 2014; Doleschal 2002; Gladrow 1996; Molnár Satinská / Valentová 2016; Pančiková 1989). However, once the individual(s) is/are determined to be of female gender, feminine person nouns should be used (Lehečková 2000; Lazar 2016). Nevertheless, Ohnheiser (2006) has also stated the observation that no feminine equivalents of masculine neologisms have been being formed or used in recent times. In addition, using a masculine verb ending (genus virile) for a group of people in Czech is criticised as sexist (Čmejrková 2003).

Jeden muž a tři ženy šli do kina.

‘A man and three women went to the cinema.’

Thus, it would appear that guidelines need to be created. So far, Valdrová (2018, 2005, 2001) and Valdrová et al. (2010) have suggested guidelines for gender-inclusive language use in Czech, although their guidelines explicitly contain queer approaches as well. Their guidelines call for the consistent use of feminine person ←18 | 19→nouns in feminine contexts. However, they do also emphasise that pair forms should consistently be used in any case, especially for individuals of unknown gender or for groups (e.g., Vážené kolegyně a kolegové, vystoupení zahraničních odbornic a odborníků). They also point out neutralisation forms as a way of enabling gender-neutral, identity-inclusive language use (cf. also Kolek in this volume). While collective nouns (e.g., *zřizovatelorganizace, *zaměstnavatelfirma) can serve this purpose, participative and attribute forms are also an option (e.g., referující, studující, vedoucí). Interestingly, companies, universities, and other institutions do not tend to provide any guidelines.


Cviková (2014) has summarised the opportunities for gender-inclusive or gender-neutral language use in Slovak, intended to promote increased use of feminine person nouns and gender-inclusive language (cf. also Luţă, Paliga, and Urbańcová in this volume).


Contemporary Slovene is the prime example of gender-neutral, gender-inclusive language use among the Slavonic languages due to rapid, constructive, and innovative development of gender language policies (see Štumberger in this volume). Non-discriminatory and non-sexist language use in Slovene has a long history of discussion both in public and in academia, and a radical shift in language was ultimately the only way forward (Doleschal 2015c, 362). The Slovenian government, including the Government Office for Women’s Policies (Urad za žensko politiko pri vladi Republike Slovenije), has played a significant part in the creation and publication of guidelines and information on gender-inclusive language use (Doleschal 2015a, cf. also Stabej 1997, and in addition for Dutch, Pauwels 1997). Gender suffixation is now the established linguistic norm (e.g., dijak – dijakinja), although the pair form (e.g., dijak in dijakinja) and the splitting form (e.g., dijak/inja, dijak/dijakinja) are also becoming common in official correspondence (Doleschal 2015a, 2015c, 2003; Štumberger 2015). Although sexist and discriminatory structures can still be observed in Slovene due to the predominant use of the generic masculine in certain contexts and, most particularly, due to a penchant for androcentric verb congruence, gender-inclusive language use in Slovene has overall become an established phenomenon. The use of feminine person nouns is not only customary, it is also the norm, meaning that feminine person nouns are seen across the spectrum of text types, including in official contexts (e.g., ombudsman – ombudsmanka). Gender suffixes are thus also added to titles and forms of address (e.g. , profesorica), although generic masculine forms (e.g., profesor) are still used ←19 | 20→in some cases (Doleschal 2015c, 2003). It is also striking that language policy measures have given rise to certain neosemanticisms, as shown by Štumberger (2015) (e.g., majorka: formerly: ‘wife of the major’, today also: ‘female major’). In addition, as Štumberger points out, lexicographers are recording an increase in feminine person nouns, further strengthening the status of such nouns in language.

The deconstructionist spelling variants critiquing heteronormativity in use today – primarily by groups of activists or sexual minorities – such as asterisk, dynamic or static underscores, slashes, or bracket forms intended to show gender binarity, and the switch to gender-neutral forms, are gradually gaining ground, although such designation methods are still limited to certain text types and channels. In Slovenia, however, the deconstructionist use of the underscore to ensure gender-inclusive language use and thereby represent non-heterosexual identities is already being discussed within academia and in the media.


Polish is one of the languages in which antidiscriminatory and antisexist structures are being researched, and antidiscrimination and antisexism are increasingly being discussed within society, the public, and the media, but where the society is still not completely convinced that Polish is discriminatory and sexist or that language can even be used to cause or, worse, exacerbate sexism and discrimination (see Steciąg in this volume, cf. also Jaworski, 1989, 1986; Scheller-Boltz 2020). For a long time now, books and guidelines have been published in Poland devoted to prescriptive linguistic hygiene and language policy issues. Associations such as Polskie Towarzystwo Językoznawcze or Towarzystwo Miłośników Języka Polskiego promote language policy measures of a highly normative nature. Journals such as Język Polski or Poradnik Językowy, radio and television programmes featuring renowned linguists or online portals such as Poradnia Językowa also aim to help clear up, in an audience-friendly manner, current issues around language use. Questions on gender-inclusive language and associated considerations around gender suffixation processes have always been present in Poland – sometimes on a larger, sometimes on a lesser scale (Kucała 1978; Obrębska / Benni 1933). However, due to the current increasing frequency of feminine person nouns, issues of linguistic antisexism and the legitimate use of feminine person nouns are very virulent today (Łaziński 2006; Scheller-Boltz 2020, 2018b; Zadykowicz-Skwirosz 2016).

Questions around antidiscrimination and political correctness also play an important role, as the debate around the noun murzyn ῾nigger᾿ shows (Łaziński 2009; Scheller-Boltz 2013). There are other lexemes already in existence today, such as e.g., czarnoskóry ‛black’, ciemnoskóry ‛dark-coloured’ , Afrykańczyk ‛African’, or ←20 | 21→Afropolak ‛Afropole’ (cf. also Germ. Afroamerikaner ῾Afro-American᾿, Afro-deutscher ῾Afro-German᾿), but murzyn is still very commonly used.

One also sees criticism of the use of ciotka ‛fag’ and ciota ‛fag, poof, fairy’ more and more often.

There is now solid research available for Polish giving insight into the options for using gender-inclusive language (for a detailed overview, see Scheller-Boltz 2020). On that basis, an increasing number of directives and guidelines on gender-inclusive language use in various fields are being written (e.g., Branka / Tański 2004; Grzybek 2008; Maciejewska 2007; Małocha-Krupa et al. 2013, cf. also Karwatowska / Szpyra-Kozłowska 2010; Kędziora et al. 2009; Koniuszaniec / Blasz-kowska 2003; Małocha-Krupa 2011a; Szpyra-Kozłowska / Karwatowska 2004a, 2004b). Today, almost every university has guidelines on correct, non-discriminatory, non-sexist language use (Ginter 2016) as well.

Now, gender visibilisation in Polish is not particularly concise (Miemietz 1997; Pałczyńska 2016, 112-118), as the example nasze/nasi nowe/nowi studentki/studenci shows. Nevertheless, many linguists advocate an increase in the use of feminine person nouns, not only for forms of address such as Panie i Panowie, which quite generally meets with frequent criticism (see Masojć and Rutkovska in this volume). This is a debate sparked in particular by former minister Joanna Mucha, when she requested to be addressed as pani ministra rather than by the generic masculine form pani minister (Waszakowa 2014). Moreover, forms of address such as pani Basiu, pani inżynier Wandziu, or pani Madziu are seen as sexist, discriminatory and thus to be avoided (Scheller-Boltz 2020, cf. also Coady 2014).

Gender-inclusive speech is advocated in general, i.e. also in contexts not requiring forms of address. Linguists and non-linguists alike support the use of pair forms such as PolacyPolki i Polacy, rodacyrodaczki i rodacy, palaczepalaczki i palacze (Handke 1994b; Karwatowska / Szpyra-Kozłowska 2010; Ła-ziński 2006; Małocha-Krupa 2010a, 2010b; Zadykowicz-Skwirosz 2016). Miemietz (1997, 1993) and Szpyra-Kozłowska / Karwatowska (2004a, 2004b) have observed an increase in pair forms such as Panie i Panowie, kelner i kelnerka, asystentka lub asystent, and also slash forms (kelner/ka, obywatel/ka, fryzjer/ka, recepcjonist/k/a) in job advertisements, official speeches, and written texts. However, one finds other spellings that have been increasingly more common in Polish for some time already: slash forms (e.g., studentki/studenci, kucharz/kucharka, odbiorca/ odbiorczyni, zleceniodawca/ zleceniodawczyni, pracownik/ pracownica, klient/ klientka, aby być zrozumianym/zrozumianą, wybrany/-a, pan/-i, zatrudnię kucharza/rKę, zatrudniony/-a, klient/k/om), bracket forms (e.g., asystent(ka), bar-man(ka), sekretarka (sekretarz), asystenta(kę), Mamy obowiązek wspierać nauczyciel(k)i, wybrany(-a), pan(-i), uczniowie(nnice), uczniowie(ice), odbiorca(czyni)), or other, mainly situational, forms such as fryzjer-ka, fryzjer-fryzjerka (Miemietz ←21 | 22→1993, cf. also Koniuszaniec / Błaszkowska 2003; Pycia 2007). Małocha-Krupa (2012, 2010a, 2010b) also advocates more use of neutral forms (e.g., ubezpieczo-nyosoba ubezpieczona, podpisującyosoba podpisująca, bezrobotnyosoba bezrobotna), collective nouns (e.g., pracownicypersonel/kadra, klienciklientela, nauczycielekadra nauczycielska/nauczająca/dydaktyczna, urzędnicypersonel urzędniczy/kadra urzędnicza) or, at least, of person nouns in the plural (e.g., każdy płatnikwszyscy płatnicy, but cf. każdykażdy/każdawszyscy).

Furthermore, there is now a consensus that femininity should be shown through feminine congruence (e.g., dyrektor zarządzająca, redaktor naczelna, nowa rzecznik, poseł powiedziała, nasza/nasz prezes firmy – Bulawka 2013, 207; Łaziński 2006, 274), as is also the case with common gender nouns (cf. ta kaleka przyszła, ten kaleka przyszedł – Kucała 1978, 50). In addition, femininity could potentially be indicated through indeclinable person nouns (see Rozmawiał z doktor/z panią profesor – Nagórko 1998, 15, cf. also Dalewska-Greń 1991).

Feminist-activist advances such as substituting the masculine pronoun ktoś with the feminine equivalent ktosia, are rare and, due to their controversial nature, have little chance of becoming established: e.g., Czy ktoś/ktosia mógłby mi wskazać adres? (Małocha-Krupa 2011b).

Antidiscrimination as a Controversial Subject

The trends are not identical across all societies, and most certainly not across all languages.


In Bosnian, language use in the public domain, particularly in the media, is often gender-inclusive, using feminine person nouns such as profesorica, doktorica, voditeljica studija (Katnić-Bakaršić 2012). However, Bosnian is not yet gender-and identity-inclusive as such, in the way that many other Slavonic languages are.


The same applies to Belarusian. There are only a handful of academic or generalised guidelines available, and they do not present any major innovations or provide any particularly ground-breaking suggestions. These guidelines are thus not really directed at non-discriminatory, non-sexist language (Scheller-Boltz 2020, cf. also Garbacki 2016, 2012; Kedron / Peršaj 2015; Peršaj 2013). There appears to be very little awareness of non-sexist, non-discriminatory use of language within Belarusian society. There is, however, some focus – albeit very marginal – on the topic within linguistics (Garbacki 2012; Kedron / Peršaj 2015). The linguists ←22 | 23→primarily draw attention to sexist use of language use in the form of androcentric phraseology (Kedron 2017, 2014, 2013).


An equality law (Zakon o rodnoj ravnopravnosti) has been enacted in Montenegro, Art. 4 of which (Sl.list CG 46/2007) points out the relevance of antidiscrimination.

Diskriminacija po osnovu pola je svako pravno ili faktičko, neposredno ili posredno razlikovanje, privilegovanje, isključivanje ili ograničavanje za-snovano na polu zbog kojeg se nekom licu otežava ili negira priznavanje, uživanje ili ostvarivanje ljudskih prava i sloboda u političkom, obrazovnom, ekonomskom, socijalnom, kulturnom, sportskom, građanskom i drugim po-dručjima javnog života. Diskriminacijom, u smislu stava 1 ovog člana, smatra se i seksualno uznemiravanje, podsticanje drugog lica na diskriminaciju, kao i korišćenje riječi u muškom rodu kao generički neutralne forme za muški i ženski rod. Diskriminacijom iz stava 1 ovog člana, ne smatra se pravo žena na zaštitu materinstva, kao i propisanu posebnu zaštitu na radu zbog bioloških karakteristika.

In line with this, the Montenegrin Ministry of Human Rights and Minorities (Mi-nistarstvo za ljudska i manjinska prava) issued guidelines on gender-inclusive language use (Registar zanimanja, zvanja i titula žena. Prilog upotrebi rodno osjetljivog jezika u sferi javne komunikacije) (Nenezić 2016, esp. 87). However, gender-inclusive language is a new concept in Montenegrin and has not yet been fully established or implemented.


When it comes to gender-inclusive language use, Serbian language users are divided (see Filipović in this volume). On the one hand, feminine person nouns are often used, with the suffixes - kinja, - ica, and - ka being very productive (Ćorić 2008; Hentschel 2003; Kersten-Pejanić 2018, 2015a, 2015b; Rajilić 2015; Rajilić / Kersten-Pejanić 2010, cf. also Blagojević 2005, 2002; Savić 2005, 2002).


harfistkinja, producentkinja, ekspertkinja, pilotkinja, fotografkinja, koordi-natorka, premijerka, menadžerka, ministarka

Occasionally one encounters double forms (e.g., psihološkinjapsihologica). On the other hand, language users avoid feminine person nouns for nationalistic reasons, since they are seen as more characteristic of Croatian, meaning that Serbian is strongly influenced by the gender-sensitive language use in Croatian (Rajilić ←23 | 24→2015). Thus, guidelines on gender-fair language use in Serbian are only gradually emerging (Savić 2005; Savić et al. 2009; cf. also Rajilić / Kersten-Pejanić 2010).


In Ukrainian, gender linguistics issues are being discussed more and more frequently, and are increasingly trending in society, the media, and academia (see Arkhangel’ska et al. in this volume). As a result, the gender suffixes - ка, - иця, and - ша are also increasing in frequency, although they have not yet met with general approval (Bilovus 2017; Levčenko 2017a, 2017b; Maerčik et al. 2017). And while the generic masculine is predominant in official texts to this day, Plotnic'ka (2017) explicitly advocates rethinking the use of the generic masculine, including in such types of text, in the long term.


Political measures regarding non-discriminatory, non-sexist language use are increasingly more common in Bulgarian. Feminine person nouns are increasingly formed by suffixation (e.g., министърка, шофьорка) or composition (e.g., топмоделка, експартньорка, психоложка) (Uzeneva 2006, cf. also Manova / Dressler 2001; Walczak-Mikołajczakowa 2000). Despite this development and the discussion around sexism in language and society, Bulgarian still maintains its androcentric use of language (Stojanova / Trajkova 2010; Sumrova 2017, 2015). This can be seen in official texts, in salutations and titles, and also in the names of senior positions and offices (cf. also Andrejčin 1974; Rusinov 1974).


Russian is one of the Slavonic languages with the lowest trend towards antidiscriminatory language use, if there is any to speak of whatsoever. Russian largely perpetuates traditional language structures and demonstrates little openness towards gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language use, or towards language usage to avoid the discrimination of people with disabilities or of non-majority origin or sexual orientation (Radünzel 1998; Scheller-Boltz 2013). Political correctness is increasingly associated with feminism – which is negatively connotated – and with “the West” (Baer 2009, 9). Thus, there is no significant awareness of politically correct use of language, and/or it is postulated that politically correct use of language is relevant in “the Western world”, but is of no importance to or within Russia (Arkhangel'ska 2011; Kuznetsova 2015, cf. also Neupokoeva 2009, 2008a, 2008b). In addition, the government does not support any language policy measures intended to ensure such language use (cf. Doleschal / Schmid 2001). ←24 | 25→This is evident not only in the purportedly neutral use of негр ‘black person, literally: nigger’ or педераст в хорошом смысле ‘homosexual, literally: pederast in a good sense’; the refusal to use antidiscriminatory language is also evident in the gender context (Scheller-Boltz 2020, 2017a). Furthermore, there is a prevalent assumption that the masculine serves as a neutral form that directly includes women (see in more detail Kirilina in this volume).

The lacking awareness of appropriate language use in Russia is also shown by lay-linguist remarks by numerous language users who describe political correctness as странно ‘strange’ (Peršaj 2014, 29) and quite literally have no idea what to do with the concept, as – in keeping with contemporary sexism – they refuse to acknowledge the existence of any societal or linguistic discrimination in Russia (Niedzielski / Preston 2000). This hypothesis is also advocated in academic circles. For instance, many linguists claim that Russian has little androcentrism (Goroško 2004, 2001), whereas Efremov (2010, 2006) considers Russian highly androcentric and sexist (Arkhangel'ska 2011, 15-17; Kirilina 2001). What does seem strange is the fact that even an outstanding Russian gender researcher approves of it by stating that trifling and/or well-meaning sexism (доброжелательный сексизм) is just part of Russia and Russian culture (Vinogradova 2016, cf. also Lissyutkina 1993). Thus, there appears to be inadequate understanding of what discrimination really is.

While political correctness and antisexism are, in fact, well-known phenomena in Russia, and a small number of academics are starting to discuss the issue (Arkhangel'ska 2011; Kirilina 2000; Peršaj 2015, 33, 2014, 29), the majority of academic research into political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism in Russian continues to come from outside Russia (Scheller-Boltz 2020, 2017a, 2015b, 2015c, 2014; Sperling 2015). For instance, Weiss (1988 413, cf. 1991b, 1985) repeatedly draws attention to sexist language structures. Martyniuk (1990) also considers Russian sexist (cf. also Klinger 2000, 102f).

As we are well aware, Russia continues to rely on a patriarchal, traditionally-organised society and age-old gender roles (Scheller-Boltz 2018b, 2017a, 2015c, 2013; Sperling 2015). Although structures and boundaries are beginning to soften in this area (Arkhangel'ska 2011; Kirilina 2015), the government only promotes the traditional, heteronormative male-female trope. In recent times, this traditionalism has been strengthened by the promotion of three-child marriage, the adoption of the so-called Federal Propaganda Law For the Purpose of Protecting Children from Information Advocating a Denial of Traditional Family Values, and the ban on people identifying as trans from driving or holding a driving licence (Scheller-Boltz 2017a, 2015a; Scheller-Boltz / Althaler 2015).

Russian proves to be particularly resistant to change in this respect – particularly compared to the rest of the Slavonic-speaking countries (cf. Dobrovol'skiy 2000; Kirilina 2001). Tafel (1997, 13) emphasises this fact by stating that the ←25 | 26→fabric of Russian society is not just patriarchal, but especially patrilinear (cf. Arkhangel’ska 2011; Doleschal / Schmid 2001; Krongauz 1996; Peršaj 2015; Weiss 1985). Yet, the majority of Russian users do at least reject obviously sexist word formations such as cекретутка ‘Secretée’, a compound of секре(т)[арша] + [прости](т)утка, whereas obviously sexist formations used sarcastically or jokingly, such as the unequal counterpart to бизнесменбизнес-леди or the pejorative noun compound кофе-леди pass as neutral. In addition, the use of человек in a feminine context is not considered to be sexist in Russian (Arkhangel’ska 2011, 17-28, 2007, cf. also Babuškin / Popova 1987). For, while the use of человек to directly refer to women continues to be questioned, highlighting a potential for sexism, that potential for sexism is not questioned further, let alone critiqued. In addition, there is gathering evidence that человек is primarily used in masculine contexts and is presumably primarily connotated with males, given that the search engine Google returns close to 300,000 hits for женатый человек, whereas entering замужний человек only produces seven hits. All modified forms of the first – male-connotated – variant also return significantly more search hits than any modified forms of the noun compound замужний человек. One gains the same impression if one searches the national corpus of the Russian language (NKRJa), in which замужний человек does not occur even once.

Final Remarks

This volume demonstrates that political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism are understood heterogeneously and disparately in the various Slavonic-speaking countries, and that the understanding of these concepts is not uniform. The view of antidiscrimination varies depending on societal structures, the degree of cosmopolitanism, and historical developments. But across the Slavonic-speaking countries, there is an awareness and, more predominantly, an acceptance of political correctness. It is, however, impossible to give a clear definition of what political correctness is. The mechanisms vary; differing measures are discussed and implemented, and there are different situations and frameworks enabling disparate measures. Regardless of all the circumstances, nothing will change the fact that the Slavonic-speaking countries as a whole will have to devote even more thought to antidiscriminatory measures in the future. Moving forward, many Slavonic societies will have to learn from Czech, Croatian, Slovak, and Slovene – in Polish, an antidiscriminatory language use is strongly developing –, in particular, in order to foster more political correctness in their languages.

This volume gives a very good, detailed, broad overview of the topics of political correctness, antidiscrimination, and antisexism in the Slavonic languages. It shows the current situation in each individual language, and what developments have taken place to date. The volume also indicates areas requiring more work in ←26 | 27→the future – it raises questions that linguistics needs to devote more attention to in the years to come. Readers will thus find different levels of information on various topics and issues, and gain an excellent grounding in antidiscriminatory language use in the Slavonic languages. One can only hope that these questions will continue to evoke interest and attention in the future, and that a similarly successful and productive volume will soon be in the offing to follow up on the research findings and issues set out in this present volume.

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ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2021 (July)
Gender linguistics Queer linguistics Political correctness Mixed speech Phraseology Textology
Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Warszawa, Wien, 2019. 400 pp., 5 fig. col., 3 fig. b/w, 24 tables.

Biographical notes

Dennis Scheller-Boltz (Volume editor) Tilmann Reuther (Volume editor)

Dennis Scheller-Boltz is a linguist and translator. His research interests include gender linguistics, semanto-pragmatics, word formation, equivalence problems and conversational strategies in intercultural communication. He has worked at the universities of Opole, Innsbruck and the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration and has held visiting professorships in Edmonton, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Warsaw, Moscow, Chelyabinsk and Wroclaw. Tilmann Reuther studied Russian linguistics and mathematics in Vienna and Slavic linguistics in Klagenfurt. From 2004 until 2018 he was professor of Russian linguistics at the University of Klagenfurt, Austria. At present he is co-leader of a joint Austrian-German project on the linguistic situation in Southern Ukraine.


Title: Wiener Slawistischer Almanach Band 84/2019