Basque and gender: how a genderless language also suffers from gender inequality

Ikurrina Urgull Donostia Euskal Herria scaled

Basque, or euskara, is the official language of the Basque Country. It is a well-known language for nerdy linguists. You’ve probably heard it’s a language isolate with an unknown origin, that it has a weird word order, peculiar sounds, and no gender whatsoever. Some rumours are true, for instance that its weird order is that the verb always comes at the end, like: “the woman the book reads”. The statement about gender needs a little explanation. And since I’m a native Basque speaker who happens to be a linguist writing for this blog, let me offer that explanation.


Why Basque is so special

But first, please allow me to praise my mother tongue by briefly summarising and translating …

Does he say he twice as often as she? Women, men and language

hvem sagde hvad 435087

Hvem sa hva? Kvinner, menn og språk” (English translation of the title: ”Who said what? Women, men and language”) by Helene Uri was published in Norway in 2018 and won the prestigious Brage Prize the same year. The book is about gender differences in language and language use, but it is just as much about the differential treatment and outright discrimination of primarily women, which most of the gender differences are a result of. The book is a mixed bag of observations, but still represents one of the best Scandinavian books on the topic.

Helene Uri (b. 1964) is a Norwegian linguist and author. In her 2008 novel “De besste blant os” (English translation of the …

Deborah Cameron on the impact of feminist linguistic research

Deborah Cameron has studied language and gender for around 40 years. She has written numerous books on this topic, including The Myth of Mars and Venus (2007) and Language and Sexuality (2003). She is currently a Rupert Murdoch professor of Language and Communication at Worchester College, Oxford University. Apart from her academic work, she also engages in public communication about linguistic research and feminism. sent me out as their reporter to ask Deborah about her work, her thoughts about political science, and the impact of linguistic, feminist research. Hopefully her reflections can inspire our readers and provide new perspectives on how and why we do research.

Can you tell me something about how and why you engage in popularised

The complicated femininity of “Sut Min Klit”


How many of you have felt personally victimized by Nikoline?[1] The list of her targets in “Sut Min Klit” (Danish for “Suck my clit”) is long: her male peers, pedophiles, rapists, religious leaders (all of them grouped as sexual predators in the same way), and even other women. Nikoline’s recently unleashed song and video one-two punch is impossible to ignore, both perfectly designed to provoke a strong reaction. (Listen to the song here).

The song has generated headlines since it was released. Can you consider Nikoline a feminist? Are people as offended when there’s a man behind lyrics like these? Isn’t her inflexible standpoint as bad as the extremism she denounces? These are all questions that can spark …