Feminitives in Legal Documents: “Claimantess”, “Respondentess”, and “Secretaress” Are Among the Top Titles

The number of feminitives used in the documents is growing steadily.

30 July 2021

Using its Grandma search engine (Unified State Register of Judicial Decisions search), Opendatabot checked how deep feminitives had recently penetrated the document management—the most official part of the language. The search in the court register included two dozen law-related, e.g., “prosecutoress,” and more general words, e.g., “directoress.”

“Claimantess” (171,124 mentions) and “respondentess” (84,712 mentions) were the most popular in 2020.

They were followed by “secretaress” (4,019), “employeess” (716), “prosecutoress” (661), and “lawyeress” (659).

It is noteworthy that half of these words, in particular, “secretaress”, “prosecutoress”, and “lawyeress,” were first mentioned in the court register only a year earlier—in 2019—when the law on new rules of Ukrainian spelling was passed.

Femininitives mentioned in legal documents in 2020
FemininitivesMentions
позивачка171124
відповідачка84712
секретарка4019
працівниця716
прокурорка661
адвокатка659
завідувачка226
водійка184
адвокатеса162
директорка103
помiчниця68
заступниця64
підприємниця54
начальниця51
підприємиця41
керiвниця27
членкиня22
кредиторка13
експертка10
спецiалiстка8
юристка7
радниця6
менеджерка2

Feminitives do not necessarily end in “-ess”, however, this ending has proved to be the most popular. Other options are not so popular, e.g., “woman lawyer” is four times less common than “lawyeress”, while “female lawyer” can hardly be found at all.

The analysis of the register over the past five years shows that the number of feminitives in the documents is steadily growing. At the same time, “male” versions of feminitives are still more common. “Claimant” could be found in the documents 18 times more often than “claimantess,” with “respondent” being 34 times more popular than “respondentess” last year. Fifty-four “women entrepreneurs” and forty-one “female entrepreneurs” only could be found among 383 thousand “entrepreneurs”.

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