#180: Karneval returns, gender-neutral German, activists
The airport is no longer a money hole!
Dear 20 Percent,
A brief foray into the German culture wars today: Rookie mayor Klaus Wegner (CDU) has spoken out against “gender-neutral” language in the city administration and wants to keep using “the kind of German he learned in school”. The Guardian has a entry-level explainer about what’s going on.
Wegner is hoping to get rid of complicated forms like “Bürger*innen” (citizens), BürgerInnen (also citizens) and Bürger_innen (also citizens). These forms are supposed to replace the traditional “generic masculine” plural of “Bürger”. The quirky punctuation is meant to suggest the inclusion of women and other genders who feel excluded by the male-sounding “Bürger”.
While I sympathise with the general mission behind gentral-neutral language, the implementation of it in Germany has been complicated and confusing. The newspaper where Andrew and I used to work held a number of tortuous office-wide Teams meetings on the polarising issue and we ended up deciding that everyone could write whatever they wanted — which aligns with how I feel about it, to be honest.
Only a minority of Germans actually favour using gender-neutral language (also confusingly called gendern. The ones who are in favour can’t agree on a way to talk about a group of people with various genders. The three forms above are barely the tip of the iceberg.
Wegner said that this kind of language makes it harder for immigrants to learn German, and although he sounded extremely disingenuous when he said that, because Berlin has actual problems that require attention, I think he might have a point.
A lot of Germans have no idea on whether it’s better to say “Studentinnen und Studenten” or “Studierende” (“studying ones”) or just “Studenten” so is adding an extra layer of rules that no one agrees on to the language going to make life easier for people trying to learn it? Probably not. But maybe I’m wrong. Let me know how you feel about gendern in the comments.
More news below!
P.S. Thanks again to our loyal sponsor, the green power utility Ostrom!
Activists get Urlaub too
Climate protesters Letzte Generation continued to block streets Monday and Tuesday but say they’ll be taking a summer break from July 15-August 6, writes Tagesspiegel. They will use the time for on-boarding new activists and planning for the fall. Meanwhile, on June 5, the group says it has a special action planned for the “superrich”. Letzte Generation has already paint-bombed the flagship stores of luxury brands and a private plane at BER. Meanwhile, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) irked the activists when on Monday he called their actions “totally crazy” (völlig bekloppt), while visiting a school in Kleinmachnow.
The scourge of bike theft in Berlin is bad enough — but now robbers have stolen an entire truck containing kids bikes, kids helmuts and teaching materials used by schools to teach children how to cycle. The truck was operated by non-profit BEGSpo, which teaches pupils at 50 Berlin schools how to cycle.
Kreuzberg street party returns
The massive annual Karneval der Kulturen is back after a three-year corona-break. It kicks off Friday with four days of music and streetfood from around the world at Blücherplatz in Kreuzberg. The traditional parade takes place on Sunday. Before the pandemic 700,000 people would attend. And don’t forget: next Monday is a public holiday so expect the usual mad dash for groceries at the supermarket on Saturday.
Flughafengesellschaft Berlins, the state-owned company that owns BER airport, made a profit of €216 million last year, following two years of losses, thanks to the pandemic. Most of the profit was due to the sale of property, such as at the old Tegel. Without that BER made €56 million, thanks to 19.8 million passengers. Congratulations, BER, after opening 9 years late, three times over budget you’re doing what you’re supposed to do. Now, can you please invest a little more in those security lanes?
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ Visit our sponsor! ⭐ ⭐ ⭐
SAVE MONEY WITHOUT GETTING OUT OF BED?!
What easier way to cut costs than by paying less for electricity? With
the OSTROM APP, you can easily keep track of your energy consumption
and adapt your monthly payments any time.
Ostrom is the provider that delivers you green energy at cost price — no
markups, just a flat €6 admin fee. As an Ostrom customer, you can
expect lower electricity bills when market prices drop. To make things
easier, they offer a flexible, month-to-month plan that can be cancelled at any time, with an all-digital experience in both English and German.
Head to OSTROM.DE to sign up in five minutes. Their support team
will deal with your ex-provider and ensure your lights stay on
throughout the entire switching process.
Use code 20PERC3NT5 for a €35 bonus when signing up. After that,
you’ll get a personal referral code to share, meaning another €35
bonus each time someone uses it!