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14420Re: The Swedes have gone mad

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  • David
    Apr 3, 2012
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      If you speak a language that uses gendered 3rd person pronouns, it probably never occurs to you that it doesn't have to be this way.
      And perhaps the same applies to languages where the 2nd or 1st person pronoun is gendered.
      I think there may be other languages that have "genres" that are non-sexual, but do have multiple 3rd person pronouns. Perhaps they distinguish and use different pronouns depending on whether the object is animate or inanimate, concrete or abstract, long or short, flexible or hard.
      In most cases, the use of gendered 3rd person pronouns is redundant. That is, I'm already aware that my brother has a penis -- do I really need to specify this every time I refer to him?

      But having multiple pronouns can be a useful part of the linguistic tool box -- giving variety and redundancy. In my opinion, the purpose of pronouns -- especially 3rd person, is as a short-cut to refer back to something that is already mentioned.
      For example I might say "I was attacked by a Bulgarian secret service agent. He was silent and deadly. He wore a tightly tailored silk suit. I never saw him coming. He struck from behind. His weapon of choice was a poisoned umbrella."
      I use "he", "him" and "his" as a short cut, so I don't need to say "Bulgarian secret service agent" over and over again.

      Perhaps I say something like "Yesterday I saw my Janet and John. She was wearing very tight pants". Who is "she"? It's Janet of course, the only female character who I've previously referenced. It's obvious that is Janet because my choice of pronoun says that I am talking about a female. Of course, it wouldn't work if I am talk about Peter and John -- both males.
      If you speak a language with only one 3rd person pronoun, you'd need other options to specify who is who.


      --- In folkspraak@yahoogroups.com, "chamavian" <roerd096@...> wrote:
      >
      > In a few languages the pronouns for the seconds person(you) are gender specific. E.g. in Arabic "enta" = you (male), "enti" = you (female), singular. In plural it's "entum" = you (male), "entuma" = you (female).
      > In more languages the third person plural is gender specific:
      > French ils (m) and elles (f), Arabic hum (m), humma (f), etc.
      >
      > But there are also many languages where there's no diffence between he and she, such as Hungarian, Turkish, Chinese etc. Probably most languages in the world don't make that distinction.
      >
      > --- In folkspraak@yahoogroups.com, Will Beazley <willbeaz@> wrote:
      > >
      > > While I don't know the impact of not having them, the gender specific pronouns
      > > are actually a manifestation of how we see the world, that is our minds apply
      > > gender to thing subconsciously.
      > >
      > >
      > > Hence, while you might confuse someone's name or which person it might have been
      > > but you always get the gender correct, it is hard wired.
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > --
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > ________________________________
      > > From: joshua.shafer19 <joshua.shafer19@>
      > > To: folkspraak@yahoogroups.com
      > > Sent: Tue, April 3, 2012 7:27:33 AM
      > > Subject: [folkspraak] Re: The Swedes have gone mad
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > --- In folkspraak@yahoogroups.com, "chamavian" <roerd096@> wrote:
      > > >
      > > > Voici an article about a Swedish childrens' book writer who wants to promote a
      > > >new gender neutral personal pronoun, next to he and she.
      > > >
      > > >
      > > > --- In folkspraak@yahoogroups.com, "chamavian" <roerd096@> wrote:
      > > > >
      > > > >
      > > > > http://www.thelocal.se/38992/20120208/
      > > > >
      > > >
      > >
      > > I seriously doubt that gender specific pronouns have a serious impact on how we
      > > experience the world. If anything the affiliations of gender with inanimate
      > > objects have a negative impact on how important gender is to the native speaker,
      > > that is at least what I would expect. How important is gender when a turnip or
      > > toothbrush has it?
      > >
      > > "In 2011, a young boy in Jönköping was attacked for wearing pink and nail
      > > polish, which are perceived as female attributes. "
      > >
      > > It's funny that they give an example of a young boy being attacked for wearing
      > > nail polish which is a physical way of expressing gender in that culture, but
      > > assume that the event has some relation to pronoun gender. They make no logical
      > > connection. It is technically more accurate to have a gender neutral pronoun,
      > > but it doesn't make sense to assume that it has a biased impact on speakers.
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > >
      > > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      > >
      >
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