Pronouns for they/them in German

Background to gender neutral xier pronouns in German

Xier, xieser, xiem, xien, xies, xiese, xiesem, dier, diem and dier are genderneutral German pronouns. They add a gender neutral version to the existing gendered German pronouns of the third person singular: sie/er, ihrer/seiner, die/der. German requires more than one or two words as declension of words is gendered as well. Older versions are listed at the bottom of this page in a pronoun version history.

Xier pronouns may be used a a translation for singular »they« pronouns in English, that are used to describe a person without declaring their gender. As with singular »they«, »xier« pronouns can be used specifically for people that do not what to use »sie« oder »er« pronouns. This depends on the persons preference, as there are other neopronouns available and some non-binary people use »she« and »he« pronouns.

Citation : »xier« Pronouns in Use

Xier Pronouns are used in original German texts, but also in translations, subtitles and synchronisations. A list of excerpts tracks their usage.

Current Version : Pronomen ohne Geschlecht 4.0

The current Version 4.0 of the pronouns is explained in German.

Examples : Pronoun Bau Sätzen

The “pronoun assembly sets” are a collection of example sentences, that gives a quick understanding of »xier« pronouns without the use of grammar tables. Pronoun version 4.0 is used in the examples, which are translated from German into German with the traditional pronouns »sie« and »er«.

Comics : »xier« pronouns and their grammar

Webcomic : Queer Comic Conversation

In episode number 2 of Queer Comic Conversations Sam Orchard and I speak about labels and pronouns in the German and English language.

Comiczine : Xier packt xiesen Koffer

Xier packt xiesen Koffer is a German comic zine on alternative pronouns, naming oneself, other languages and a list of reasons to use alternative grammar. An analytical article about my Comic-Zine on alternative genderneutral pronouns was written by Nichole Neuman. I do love the depth and breadth of her approach, behind paywall for scientific publication: Seminar: A Journal of Germanic Studies, 56(3-4), 302-321, 2020.

Minicomic 11 : Xier

Minicomic 11 tells the story of a snail in love using updated version 4.0 »xier« pronouns. The comic is in German with a text-only version,

Press : German xier pronouns

A press page documenting English mentions in the off and online press. The list of German press mentions is considerable longer, including tweets.

History of Pronomen ohne Geschlecht

Version 4.0 (2020)

xier|xieser|xiem|xien (personal pronoun)
dier|dies|diem|dien (relative pronoun)
xies… (possessive pronoun)
Version 4.0. Changes are made to blend the pronoun with German grammar of the other pronouns.

Version 3.2 (2013)

xier|xies|xiem|xien (personal pronoun)
dier|dies|diem|dien (relative pronoun)
xies… (possessive pronoun)
Version 3.2 was first released as an illustrated zine. It is available online as a text-based and an illustrated a Version 3.2. Only minor changes to the previous version.

Version 3.1 (2013)

xier|xies|xiem|xien (personal pronoun)
dier|dies|diem|dien (relative pronoun)
xies… (possessive pronoun)
In Version 3.1 small changes were added. Articles were published in the printed magazine Queerulant_in and online at Mädchenmannschaft to make discuss the alternative grammar within the queer, feminist and trans communities.

Version 3.0 (2012)

xier|xies|xiem|xien (personal pronoun)
dier|dies|diem|dien (relative pronoun)
xies… (possessive pronoun)
In 2012, the user Liliane Gross convinced me to change the first letter of most of the pronouns from s to x to avoid mix-ups with other words. In the Version 3.0 the possessive pronouns were adapted to existing grammar to make them easier to be learned and used.

Version 2.0 (2010)

sier|sies|siem|sien (personal pronoun)
dier|dies|diem|dien (relative pronoun)
sien… (possessive pronoun)
In 2010 I updated the pronouns to Version 2.0. All pronouns were updated to make them more readable and pronounceable. The endings where matched the question words (interogative pronouns) that can be used to figure out the grammatical case needed: wer|wessen|wen|wem.

Version 1.0 (2009)

sif|sis|sim|sin (personal pronoun)
dif|dis|dim|din (relative pronoun)
sir… (possessive pronoun)
The very first Version 1.0, came to life in 2009 in cooperation with Felix Hill, formerly known as Sarah Hill. As we wrote the first set of non-binary pronouns on a piece of paper, there was nothing comparable in German. We knew alternative pronouns from English and missed them in German.

4 thoughts on “Pronouns for they/them in German

  1. Ineke says:

    Hello,

    Thank you for the information on these pronouns.
    I was wondering if you can also tell me the correct German salutation for gender neutral people? I have heard that in English Mx. (opposed to Mr. and Ms.) is used. Is there also a salutation in German (next to Herr and Frau)?

    Thank you in advance.

    • Illi Anna Heger says:

      Hi, thanks for your question.

      At this point I do not know about any translation for Mx. I know that Lann Hornscheidt used Profex Drex for their professional title Prof. Dr., see lannhornscheidt.com

      Apart from that people use avoidance techniques: instead of “Sehr geehrte Frau …” or “Sehr geehrter Herr…” we use “Hallo Illi Anna Heger” which sounds a bit colloquial or “Guten Tag Illi Anna Heger”, see queer-lexikon.net and nonbinary.ch/kommunikation

  2. Erick Perry says:

    Thank you for your explanations of gender neutral pronouns in German. Is there a certain ending for gender neutral nouns referring to people. Is the masculine form used by default? For example, Freund, Schueler, Pilot, etc., for a gender neutral person?

    • Illi Anna Heger says:

      Dear Erick, thank you for leaving you comment an question. For nouns, I personally use forms like Freund_in or Freund*in in singular forms. This has been used for quite some time in the plural forms, Freund_innen, to include women, men and everybody else. The symbol is spoken as a Glottisschlag, a little pause as in words like Spiegelei, which could be notated as Spiegel_ei. There are other approaches, please check Nibi-Space and Wikipedia for other options.

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