While English did have three genders until around the 11th century, it has no gendered articles today. That’s modern. Gendered articles are not 21st century. In most romance languages one uses a feminine article for a female person, a male article for a male person and also a male article for any mixed gender group of people. German does the opposite. German has three articles, der for masculine, die for feminine and das for neuter. Even stranger is that the German language uses the same article – die – for multiples as is used for feminine words. Der Mann – the man, die Frau – the woman, die Männer – the men, die Frauen – the women. However, when it comes to many professions mixed groups are expressed with the male word. For example, a male teacher is der Lehrer, a female teacher is die Lehrerin. a group of female teachers is die Lehrerinnen, but a mixed group of teachers is die Lehrer – using the plural article that is the same word as the female article PLUS the word for male teacher.

I learned that in German one can use a new word combination to address a person who may either be male or female. Teacher becomes Lehrer*In and the plural becomes Lehrer*Innen. One can also use an underscore instead of the asterisk. But how does one pronounce this word? If one pronounces all of the letters Lehrer*In it would sound just like die Lehrerin. It would be cool if everyone actually pronounced the asterisk, say with a tongue click.

Germany was one of the first countries to take steps to impose both feminine and masculine forms in all official documents. One usually adds in to any profession to create the feminine version. Lehrer becomes Lehrerin, Fahrer – driver – becomes Fahrerin. American English is already past this. Words have reverted to one form, for example actor instead of actress. Flight attendent instead of stewardess. The ending “ess” was never going to work anyway. Presidentress? Killeress? Musicianess?

Pilot, baker, musician, driver… the gender doesn’t and should not matter and in that way English is the more modern and current language.