Inclusive Language at UZH

Two guidelines for members of the University of Zurich

Language doesn’t just reflect reality, it also shapes it. UZH therefore undertakes to use language that does not disadvantage or exclude anyone. The UZH guidelines for inclusive language (in German) provide suggestions and proposals for everyday spoken and written language that is non-discriminatory.

The UZH English Writing Guide (section 2.3) gives specific guidance on the use of inclusive language in English. In particular, masculine pronouns should not be used when the gender of a person is not known. Instead, the plural form should be used or the pronoun should be avoided altogether. UZH endorses the use of “they”, “their”, “them” in the singular to avoid awkward “he/she”, “his/hers”, “him/her” constructions. Furthermore, gender-neutral terms should be used, e.g. chair or chairperson instead of chairman, humankind instead of mankind.