In English, terms like Congressman, Postman, Mailman, Salesman etc. are sometimes used to refer to females, so I'm wondering if its at all acceptable in German to refer to a female teacher as ein Lehrer instead of eine Leherin or if thats considered offensive or improper? Or when making a non-specific use of teacher, as in 'A teacher learns best' is the gender in German optional?
I live in Austria for some time, I can say people are overily careful with this gender policies here. To the level that if you don't know the gender, you have to use both. I've seen Soldat/Soldatin written on a recruitment poster, for instance. So I would guess it's offensive to use male gender for female proffesionals :)
it wouldn't be acceptable to refer to a female wiht a male form. In non-specific cases the male form is acceptable and common sense, but politicians and officials use the politicly correct double form, which makes all sentences much longer than needed. The other option for official speaches is to asure the audience in the introduction that you are using the male form as a collective form for both genders in non specific contexts. In private conversations, you always use the collective male form.
I agree with you completely. As a person who would love nothing more than to be able to translate languages word-for-word, I like to express the entire idea each word represents in the context of a sentence. Leaving room for interpretation or other ambiguity really bothers me.
That said, I feel that Duolingo is taking the more practical approach to learning languages instead of the academic "tell me exactly what this means and why" methodology. While you may be talking about a female teacher, usually you wouldn't even mention that fact (unless it was relevant to the story) in casual conversation.
You need to think in terms of male and female teachers though when speaking in German or your audience will become confused by your switching of gender throughout the sentences surely? It's harsh to get the sentence wrong for translating it literally. Just like it's dumb for Google/Bing to translate always using the formal you when it goes from English to German
It's the same in English. "Mit" will always take the dative case as well as some other prepositions. There are some prepositions that also only take the accusative case. Also, some prepositions take both in order to differentiate a stationary/in-motion condition. Eg, "In dem Bus" vs. "In den Bus." They hold different meanings. Dative is stationary, while accusative is in-motion.
For Male Teacher : Der Lehrer (nominative), Den Lehrer (accusative), Dem Lehrer (Dative)
For Lady Teacher: Die Lehrerin (nominative), Die Lehrerin (accusative), Der Lehrerin (Dative)
For Male Teachers : Die Lehrer (Plural)
For Lady Teachers: Die Lehrerinnen (Plural)
Someone may please confirm the above. Danke !
In Germany (and most European countries) "Professor" is not a job but the highest academic title, higher than PhD, awarded after a habilitation. Therefore not everyone who teaches at a University is a Professor, they are then "lecturers". And European Professors usually don't teach in schools or colleges.