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Movierung or Motion (from the Latin motio , from movere “to move”) describes in linguistics the derivation of new words from existing ones for the concrete indication of gender (technical language sexus differentiation ). Movement usually creates feminine personal and occupational names , ( first ) names or animal names and other nouns agentis from the corresponding male names or masculine words, less often the other way around (compare Moved Names ). This type of word formation is particularly productive in German and Dutch as well as in Semitic languages , and to a lesser extent in French and English . In English, his PhD word forms play to denote female persons a crucial role in the application of gender-language to linguistic expression of gender equality , both bisexual couple forms (teachers) as well as in gender comprehensive abbreviations (teacher * inside ) .

German language

German is a language with a noticeably widespread movement; A specifically feminine form can be created for almost every person designation.

The suffix -in was particularly productive in the Renaissance and Baroque periods , when numerous substantiated adjectives and participles with -in and -inn were movied. Forms like the Teutschinn or the Defendant (today “der / die Deutsche” and “der / die Defuste”) did not survive long; In the grammatical-critical dictionary of the High German dialect of Adelung (from 1774) almost none of these derivations are contained.

Movement from male to female

The most widely used method in German for moving to a feminine noun agentis is the derivation of an equivalent masculine word using the word ending -in , which is also known as Movem as a special derivative morphem :

  • King → king in
  • Doctor → Doctor in
  • Baker → Baker in
  • Judge → judge in
  • Master → Master in

Historically, many of the functional and occupational titles supplemented by -in initially only referred to the (possibly working) wife of the man who worked in this way: the miller was the wife of the village miller . Title and surname were also adapted, the mayor's wife was addressed as mayor .

It was not until the 20th century that the sole reference to the activity of women became widely accepted, especially when wives were given the freedom to go to work with the abolition of " housewife marriage " in the Federal Republic of 1977. In what was then the GDR , women had had this option since 1949, with the same wage entitlement. And with a certain pride they carried masculine job titles, without an increased desire for feminine forms of designation. The emancipation movement of "the West" found no echo there, in some cases Western influences were fundamentally rejected and suppressed. In 1989, shortly before reunification , the proportion of employed women in the GDR was 92%, in West Germany it was only 50%. To date, the inclusion of female names in official catalogs and funding programs has grown considerably (compare female soldiers in the Bundeswehr since 2001, and the influence of women on the language of soldiers ).

In movied nouns, especially from the original German hereditary vocabulary, there is often an umlaut in the stem that does not always appear in the masculine plural:

  • Doctor ( Ä rzte) → Ä rzt in (only case with umlaut in the first letter)
  • Koch (K ö che) → K ö ch in
  • Attorney (ANW ä LTE) → App ä lt in
  • Bauer (farmers) → B externa it in - but: mechanical engineers (constructors) → machine manufacturer in

In some regular cases, including loan and foreign words and designations of origin, the masculine form has a suffix that is omitted in the movement, which is not as extensive as in the case of the differential genus in other languages:

  • Wander er → Wander in (regularly with nouns on -erer to verbs on -ern , see haplology )
  • Stuff e → stuff in (regularly with nouns ending in -e )
  • Gesell e → Gesell in
  • Gatt e → Gatt in
  • Geolog e → Geolog in
  • Brit e → Brit in
  • Franz ose → Franz ösin

There are some foreign movement suffixes that have been retained:

  • Steward → steward ess
  • Prince → prince essin
  • Fris eur → Fris euse → modern: hairdresser in
  • Bachelor → Bachelor ette (not for the academic degree )
  • Magist he ↔ Magist ra
  • Latin o ↔ Latin a

In some cases, the availability of two forms serves to differentiate meanings:

  • Baron → Baron ess ( Baron's daughter) , Baron in ( Baron's wife)
  • Mass eur → Mass euse ( sex worker ) vs. Masseur in ( health worker )

If the right part lexem is chosen gender-specifically in word compositions , this is not referred to as moving. In some cases there were also historical developments beyond movied forms:

  • Buying man ↔ purchase woman ↔ buying people
  • Noble man ↔ noble woman , noble lady ↔ noble people
  • Council mr ↔ Council woman (next councilor in ) ↔ Council people
  • Hof mr ↔ court lady (next Hofherr in )

Some obsolete cases testify to the movement of the word " man ":

  • Lands man ↔ Lands männin (rare: Lands woman ) ↔ country people
  • Next to man ↔ next to man (different meaning: concubine )
  • Office man ↔ Office männin → state: Office womanOffice people

For some abbreviations there is no regularly morphologically formed gender-specific form, but in linguistic usage there are special, often joking, but occasionally also derogatory forms:

  • DJ (Disc jockey ) → DJ ane (from the female first name Jane )
  • Hiwi (student assistant) → Hiwi ne (compare blond ine )


The feminist linguist Luise F. Pusch has been developing the foundations for gender-sensitive language since the late 1970s and advocates the abolition of feminine terms that are derived from masculine ones; In 2013 she said: “I've always proposed a step model. First we have to bring women into the language, preferably with the generic feminine , but the goal should be to get rid of the ending '-in' later. [...] After the abolition of the '-in', we want to secondly introduce the neuter for personal designations. We would then have 'die, der und das Professor'. [...] Systematically, the ending '-in' is actually not necessary ”(see also Pusch's criticism of the gender star ).

Movement from female to male

In some cases, the feminine word form is the basic form and therefore shorter than the masculine. This word formation is hardly productive, but occasionally leads to hypercorrections :

  • Witch → witch r (→ outdated witcher in )
  • Widow → widow r (→ outdated widower in )
  • Bride → Bräut igam (a special case, see the origin of the word "groom" )

Otherwise, new words are usually created for traditionally female professions when reference is (also) to a man, and these are sometimes further developed into gender-neutral terms:

  • Nurse → nurse → nurse (→ nurse, nursing staff )
  • Nanny → babysitter , au pair (→ child carer, child care staff , domestic help )
  • Cleaning lady → housekeeper → housekeeper (→ housekeeper, housekeeping staff , cleaning staff )

The job title midwife was renamed in Germany after the opening for men in 1987 to maternity nurse with the masculine equivalent of maternity care nurse  - since 2020 the job title midwife has also been valid for male professionals, in Austria this has been valid since 1993 (see name formation of "midwife" ).

Nouns adjectives and participles

Nouns adjectives and participles have endings like adjectives. Although it looks similar at first glance, this is a strong or weak adjective declination and not the movement of a noun. The difference can be recognized in individual cases by the fact that the masculine form does not end in -r after the specific article :

  • the employee e ↔ the employee e ↔ the employee en (weak declination)
  • one employee he ↔ one employee e ↔ some employee e (strong declination)

In the same way are formed:

  • the / a Green e / -er ↔ the / a Green e ↔ the / some green s / e
  • the / a German e / -er ↔ the / a German e ↔ the / some German s / -e
  • the / a Teen e / -er ↔ the / a Teen e ↔ the / Teen some en / -e
  • the / a Studierend e / -er ↔ the / a Studierend e ↔ the / some Studierend en / -e

Officials and ambassadors have the strong and weak forms side by side, which indicate that they were originally participles; but they still form moveable forms:

  • Civil servant ↔ civil servant (next to civil servant )
  • Envoy ↔ envoy (next to envoy )

Animal names

For domestic and farm animals , and local wild game , there are special, some only technical terminology used words for male and female and castrated animals which are not or are no longer his doctorate transparent ( complete list ):

  • the horse → the mare / stallion, gelding
  • the chicken → the hen / the rooster
  • the pig → the sow / the boar, Borg
  • the wild boar → the brook / the boar

There are also movements with endings:

  • the dog → the dog in (to the male )
  • the donkey → the donkey in
  • the duck → the drake (next to: the drake )
  • die Maus → der Mäuseich (the suffix -rich comes from male names : Dietrich, Friedrich)
  • the toad → the toad
  • the dove → the dove, dove, dove
  • the cat → the cat he / the cat in
  • the turkey → the put he (next to: the turkey → the turkey / the turkey )

The linguist Luise F. Pusch noted in 1979 that the cross-gender designation ( archilexeme ) for farm animals was apparently based on the more useful sex:

  • the cow ... cows stands for all domestic cattle , while the bull has its own name (like the bull, the ox )
  • the goose ... goose is considered more important and used for all specimens, while the males only receive his PhD title: geese rich or Gant he

In predators , the archilexeme is based on the stronger sex, the weaker one is moviert:

  • the lion → the lion in
  • the bear → the bear in

In use, the movied forms for animals differ from those for humans in that feminine unmoved forms are also used across the sexes: a tomcat is also a cat, but a widower is not a widow. If the unmoved form is feminine, there are very seldom movements like Kätzin to create explicitly feminine forms. Forms like giraffin or rat are morphologically founded ad hoc formations that are not listed in dictionaries.

For most animals that are not usually kept as pets or farm animals, there is only one generic form with different sex (the elephant, the giraffe, the zebra, the whale, the manatee, the camel) and gender-specific words are usually only formed by composition: elephant cow - elephant bull; Giraffe mare - giraffe stallion .

Most animal names are not sexually adjusted, but supplemented with an adjective: a female snake, a male seal .

Proper names

In first names, too, there are often movements that come from different languages ​​and therefore take on very different expressions, which can even be ambiguous depending on the origin. Only in some cases can a single initial shape be determined unequivocally, from which the others were derived:

  • Andre a ↔ Andre as , Andre (also Italian Andre a )
  • Mari a , Mari e ↔ Mari o , Mari us
  • Herm ine ↔ Herm ann
  • Wilhelm ine , Wilhelm a ↔ Wilhelm
  • Christian iane , Christ ine ↔ Christ ian
  • Erik a ← Erik
  • Sven yes ← Sven
  • René e ← René
  • Alexand ra ← Alexand er
  • Heik e ↔ Heik o

Movement Limitations

Especially grammatically masculine words with certain endings such as -ling , -ian , -bold and -el are usually not moved in German; partly they are replaced by alternatives:

  • Apprentice → trainee, trainee (trainee) or apprentice daughter (Swiss)
  • Refugee → Refugee, fugitive or refugee, refugee

Even the male word guest is in its form as doctorate holders Gäst in uncommon today, although this in Middle High German occurred and also in the German dictionary of the brothers Grimm is listed (as angels in and spirit in ). In the Duden , Gästin is only briefly listed as the "female form of guest". Another seldom movied masculine is spy (outdated: spy in ).

Relatively new and controversial are female forms such as refugee and, in particular, derivatives of English words such as Teenagerin (teenager), Fanin (Fan) or Starin (Star).

There are some grammatically feminine words that are gender-independent in that they do not refer to gender at all, such as person, hostage, orphan, guard, guard . If necessary, these must be marked with the specific gender (corresponding to the neuter words individual, specimen ):

  • a female person, a male hostage, a heterosexual orphan ( orphan boy / orphan girl also possible here)

This also applies to gender-neutral members of the composition such as staff (teacher), help (care assistant) or staff (team):

  • a male teacher, a nursing assistant (m / f / d), a female team

Other languages ​​that differentiate feminine and masculine nouns

Moving is carried out on such a large scale in only a few languages ​​as in German. In most of the other languages ​​that know a movement, it is limited to a very small number of words. Some languages ​​are explained below in alphabetical order.


The French language partly inherits the movement from Latin :

  • ami (friend) → amie (girlfriend)
  • paysan (farmer) → paysanne (farmer's wife)
  • coiffeur (hairdresser) → coiffeuse (hairdresser)
  • acteur (actor) → actrice (actress)

Moving is not possible for many personal names, e.g. for ministre . The Feminist linguistics could prove that such designations are perceived as "masculine" because these occupations traditionally held by men and women do not wear Movierung. As a result, various options for moving were discussed and partially enforced in court; in France, for example, Madame le ministre became Madame la ministre .

In French, too, the job title sage-femme ( midwife ) was not used as a derivation basis for the male name, but a new one was introduced: accoucheur (obstetrician). The new female job title was derived from this:

  • accoucheur (obstetrician) → accoucheuse (obstetrician)

Some male job titles are associated with more prestigious occupations than their female counterparts; In these cases, the feminine word forms are associated with professional activities that are not as prestigious and have a lower status than the corresponding masculine designation:

  • couturier (fashion designer) → couturière (seamstress)


The Hebrew language mainly uses the stressed ending -a (written as He ) and the ending -t (written as Taw ), the latter on an unstressed final syllable. Especially participles usually get the taw. Many job titles are such participles used as nouns (judge = judge, organizer = organizer), especially in modern Hebrew . The word formation patterns for movement are the same in Biblical and modern Hebrew:

  • par (bull) → para (cow)
  • jeled (child) → jalda (girl)
  • talmid (student) → talmida (student)
  • schofet (judge) → schofétet (judge)
  • mitlammed (apprentice) → mitlammédet (apprentice girl)

In modern foreign words and designations of origin, the ending is sometimes -it , occasionally with an irregular accent before the final syllable:

  • studentstudéntit (student)
  • Jehudi (Jew) → Jehudija (Jewess)
  • Israéli (Israeli) → Israélit (Israelin)


In the Latin language, both male and female personal names were marked with suffixes, so that specifically female marking was often unnecessary:

  • fīlius (son) - fīlia (daughter)
  • servus (slave) - serva (slave)
  • erus (master) - era (mistress), both in relation to slaves
  • dominus (gentleman) - domina (woman), both as class designations

However, for masculine nouns agentis on -tor there is the possibility of creating a feminine form using the suffix -trīx :

  • genitor (producer) → genetrix (producer)
  • cantor (singer) → cantrīx (singer)

From this suffix the French suffix -ice (for example in actrice: "actress"), the Italian -ice (attrice) , the Spanish (now unproductive) -iz (actriz) or the English -ess (actress) emerged .


The Dutch language uses three different suffixes for movement, depending on the form of the basic word:

  • koning (king) → koning in (queen)
  • speler (player) → speel st he (player)
  • leraar (teacher) → lerar es (teacher)

In addition, the original feminine subsidiary form is usually adopted for foreign words, with phonological adaptation if necessary :

  • politic us (politician) → politic a (politician)
  • acte ur (actor) → act rice (actress)


The Romanian language mainly uses the two suffixes ( inherited from Latin ) and -că ( borrowed from the Slavic neighboring languages) to move feminine names:

  • vecin (neighbor) → vecină (neighbor)
  • țăran (farmer) → țărancă (farmer's wife)

For animals there is the possibility to move masculine to -oi:

  • vulpe (fox, generic) → vulpoi (fox, male)

From this, in turn, a specific feminine can be moved using -că :

  • vulpoi (fox, male) → vulpoaică (vixen)

The resulting suffix -oaică is sometimes used to derive other specifically feminine words:

  • nemț (German) → nemțoaică (German)

Slavic languages

Slavic languages have several suffixes for moving names for female persons, such as Czech :

  • soused (neighbor) → sousedka (neighbor)
  • žák (pupil) → žákyně (pupil)

The two suffixes {k} and {yn} can also occur in combination:

  • přítel (friend) → přítelkyně (girlfriend)

For masculine nouns agentis in -ník there is the corresponding feminine suffix -nice :

  • pracovník (worker) → pracovnice (worker)

In some Slavic languages , surnames of women are also movied. For example, the last name of a man's wife or daughter in Czech usually ends in -ová . For example, moving Janda becomes Jandová . In Sorbian , a distinction is even made between the surnames of married women ending in "-owa" or "-yna / -ina" and names of unmarried women ending in "-ec / -ic" (Upper Sorbian) or "-ojc" (Lower Sorbian) end up. So from Brězan in Upper Sorbian Brězanowa (wife of Brězan) or Brězanec (daughter of Brězan).

Languages ​​that do not distinguish between masculine and feminine nouns


The Chinese languages rarely move; Usually it is not necessary in context to grammatically mark a job title for women by moving it. If a female equivalent to a male or genderless designation is to be formed through movement, the prefix女 is added:

  • 医生 (doctor) → 女 医生 (doctor)

In Chinese there is only one special case of movement for female workers by using a suffix :

  • 老板 (business owner) → 老板娘 (business owner)

The expression 老板娘 is ambiguous and means the employer or the wife of an employer.


In the English language movement of personal designations is uncommon these days; this is how professor can refer to both men and women; some words have retained their historical movement forms - sometimes borrowed from French :

  • duke (duke) → duch ess
  • mistermist ress
  • prince (prince) → prince ss
  • steward (waiter) → steward ess
  • act or (actor) → act ress
  • hero (hero) → hero ine

Forms ending in -ess are also possible for other personal names , but they are considered joking, derisive or derogatory : professor → professor ess .

In rare cases, and then often ironically, the movement is also carried out in English with the French suffix -ette :

  • bachelorbachelor ette (ironically also undergraduateundergradu ette in the detective novel Aufruhr in Oxford from 1935)

For animals there his PhD forms with the prefix she- , and in some cases, with the HE be his doctorate male names:

  • wolfshe -wolf / he -wolf

North Germanic languages

The North Germanic languages move very rarely; for example (with the exception of Swedish ) there are no specific feminine terms for nationalities:

  • Danish: islænding (Icelandic)
  • Norwegian: islending
  • Icelandic: Íslendingur

However, there are some movements of older origin in the Scandinavian languages that were adopted from Low German :

  • Danish: ven (friend) → ven inde (girlfriend)
  • Norwegian: venn   →   venn held

Such movement is not possible in the Icelandic language ; instead, with kona (woman) a composition formed:

  • Icelandic: vinur (friend) → vin kona (girlfriend)


The Swedish language moves with nationality designations:

  • svensk (Swede) → svensk a

For other personal names only if there is a special movement tradition:

  • vän (friend) → vän inna
  • värd (landlord) → värd inna (but: awn "neighbor", fiende "enemy")

For some animal names:

  • dog (dog) → h ynda
  • katt (cat) → han katt / hon katt (literally: he-cat / she-cat)

Movement is only very rare for job titles:

  • lärare (teacher) → lärar inna (only in historical contexts)
  • biskop (bishop) → biskop inna

The use of feminine forms of movement for job titles is considered out of date in Swedish. The means of choice for gender-equitable language in Swedish is not equalization / feminization , but neutralization.

Historically, there are other forms of movement in Swedish:

  • prost (pastor) → prost inna (pastor's wife)
  • bonde (farmer) → bond hustru (farmer's wife)

Rare example of the movement of the word "man":

  • fransmanfransman inna ("French", but rarely)


The Dravidian language Tamil (in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and in the north of Sri Lanka ) has a masculine, a feminine and a generic, i.e. cross-gender, form for many personal names, whereby the latter also expresses respectful distance:

  • tōḻ aṉ (comrade) ↔ tōḻ i (comrade) ↔ tōḻ ar (comrade)
  • māṇav aṉ (student) ↔ māṇav i (student) ↔ māṇav ar (student)
  • arac aṉ (king) ↔ arac i (queen) ↔ arac ar (king)

Other personal names do not have this distinction or only partially.

In the case of pronouns and finite verb forms , the same distinction is made between masculine / feminine / respectful-generic for all personal names, regardless of whether the noun has more than one movement variant. The form used here denotes the gender of the person referred to when used and is not permanently assigned to the word as would be the case with a grammatical gender. It may well happen that a generic pronoun occurs in connection with a masculine or feminine moveable noun, for example when gender and respectful distance are to be expressed at the same time.

See also

Current collection of materialsfPortal women: gender language  - current materials


  • Michael Lohde: Movierung (sexual differentiation). In: The same: Word formation of modern German: A textbook and exercise book. Narr, Tübingen 2006, ISBN 978-3-8233-6211-1 , pp. 124–126 ( page previews in the Google book search).

Web links

Wiktionary: Movierung  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. a b Society for German Language : Questions and Answers: Envoy vs. Envoy. In: Undated, accessed June 11, 2019.
  2. ^ Mareike Knoke: Linguistics: How »gender« can language be? In: . September 22, 2017, accessed on July 22, 2020 (science journalist).
  3. Gabriele Diewald , Anja Steinhauer : Duden handbook gender-equitable language: How to gender appropriately and understandably. Published by the Duden editorial team. Dudenverlag, Berlin April 2020, ISBN 978-3-411-74517-3 , pp. 26-27 (as opposed to GDR – FRG).
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  6. Luise F. Pusch , interviewed by Marie Todeskino: Culture: "Der, die, das Professor". In: Deutsche Welle . June 7, 2013, accessed July 17, 2020.
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  8. Government bill: federal (constitutional) law (1461 dB) 22 December 1993, § 1 ( PDF: 5.7 MB, 103 pages on; Quote: "§ 1: The job title midwife [...] applies to female and male professionals."
  9. Luise F. Pusch : Humans are creatures of habit, but you can get further without her: An answer to Kalverämperer's criticism of Trömel-Plötz 'article on “Linguistics and women's language”. 1979. In: The same: German as a male language: essays and glosses on feminist linguistics. Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt / M. 1984, pp. 20–42, here p. 35 ( view of quotations ): “In the case of farm animals, the more useful sex is apparently the archi : GANS / Gänserich, KUH / Stier. Among the predators [...] the stronger sex: LION / lioness, BEAR / she-bear. "
  10. Duden -Newsletter: The guest and the snot: how Luther and the Brothers Grimm shaped our language. In: March 1, 2017 (archived version).
  11. Guest, the. In: Duden online . Retrieved March 6, 2020.
  12. Daniel Elmiger: Linguistic equal treatment of women and men: A corpus-based study of language change in Switzerland. In: Linguistics Online. Volume 39, No. 3, July 1, 2009 (full text: doi: 10.13092 / lo.39.477 ).
  13. ^ Marion Saliter: French - a man's language? Comparative studies on French and German. Shaker, Aachen 2003, ISBN 3-8322-1399-6 , p. 116 (doctoral thesis University of Passau 2002).
  14. ^ Marion Saliter: French - a man's language? Comparative studies on French and German. Shaker, Aachen 2003, ISBN 3-8322-1399-6 , p. 119 (doctoral thesis University of Passau 2002).
  15. ^ Elias Wessén: Swedish Language History . tape 3 : Word formation theory . De Gruyter, Berlin 1970, p. 138 ( page preview in Google Book search).
  16. Herbert Karlin: The farmer's wife: Bondkvinna, bondhustru and bondmora. In: February 8, 2018, accessed May 12, 2020.