Business Standard

European Parliament wants to use more gender-neutral terms


Press Trust of India London
The European Parliament is circulating a guidebook among its members in an attempt to use more gender-neutral terms and move away from the use of words like "mankind" and "manpower" and replace them with "humanity" or "staff".
The parliamentary wing of the European Union (EU) has issued the guidelines for its officials and MEPs (Members of European Parliament) to avoid the "generic use of man" in communications, EU legislation and interpretation.
"Gender-neutral or gender-inclusive language is more than a matter of political correctness. Language powerfully reflects and influences attitudes, behaviour and perceptions, the guidebook reads.
"Political leaders" should be preferred to "statesmen" and items should be called "artificial" or "synthetic" rather than man-made, according to a report in The Daily Telegraph'.
"Businessperson" should be chosen over businessman or businesswoman, according to the guidelines, which have been updated from the first edition in 2008.
"Chair" should be used instead of Chairwoman. "Chairperson" is discouraged because "the tendency has been to use it only when referring to women".
The guidebook flags that its recommendations are not "binding rules" but more of an encouragement to moving the institution towards a more gender-neutral culture.
It notes: "The use in many languages of the word 'man' in a wide range of idiomatic expressions which refer to both men and women, such as manpower, layman, man-made, statesmen, committee of wise men, should be discouraged, the guidebook reads.
With increased awareness, such expressions can usually be made gender-neutral.
The Parliament's secretariat described the guidebook's aim as promoting non-sexist, inclusive and fair language and aims to avoid phrasings that could be seen as conveying prejudice, discrimination, degrading remarks or implying that a certain gender or social gender represents the norm".
The European Parliament works in 24 official languages of the European Union, with English as the dominant one. Some languages, such as English, Danish and Swedish, are relatively easy to render gender neutral. Others, such as German and French, are more difficult as they give a gender to nouns.
Some gender-neutral terms recommended in the guidebook have become common parlance, such as the use of actor for both sexes, and other international institutions have similar guidance.

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First Published: Dec 27 2018 | 6:10 PM IST

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