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Full Version: [split] Names, pronouns, articles... and gender
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not necessarily...

Example:
Even letters = boys, odd letters = girls.
A-M = girls, N-Z = boys.
vowels = girls, consonants = boys.
f# = girls, m# = boys.
g# = girls, b# = boys.

none of those are gender neutral, though you'd have to know the system on a couple of them to see the lack of neutrality...
However, there is the problem of assigning masculine/feminine distinctions to interchangeable characters. Names containing combinations of characters from both the masculine and feminine would end up being mixed. Unless a name were assigned purely with feminine or masculine characters, the majority of people would be given names that are more or less gender neutral. Assigning feminine/masculine aspects to only certain characters would be too arbitrary, even though languages are already quite arbitrary anyway.

It can be made to be gender specific, however, if there were an established serial format, like an identification number on bar codes. A portion of a series of numbers and letters would mark the sex of the person (say, any three character combination of purely mas/fem letters and digits, or the first two and last two characters in a serial) in addition to the person's unique ID number.

This is assuming purely the use of the Latin alphabet, seeing as English is considered the 'standard' language in international relations. I wouldn't know how to begin with languages that don't have a Latin-based alphabet in them like Sanskrit or Thai.

Also the baby's name I mentioned earlier was made up of a combination of different elements like the first initial of someone, his birth date, etc, so that adds another layer of arbitrariness. You could name somebody the price of a large pizza pie if you wanted to or the freeway route you took to get to the hospital in time for the birth.

Anyway I don't really know where this is going so I'm going to stop before I lose sleep over pondering the structure of a hypothetical alpha-numerical language. P

(Mar-03-2011, 03:43 AM (UTC))Farseer Wrote: [ -> ]I had heard something vague before but never really thought about it, I must admit...puts a different perspective on the other 'gender' debate though, when entire languages deem the need to differentiate the genders as unimportant on a literary level!!

That does beg the question(s): to what extent does the use or non-use of gender specific pronouns in a language affect how people relate to each other according to gender? Assigning gender-specific pronouns and words probably evolved from early human distinctions of things considered to be male or female traits. But what about gender neutral ones? I don't think it likely that the first languages created would be gender-neutral, so do languages evolve to be gender neutral? Why would one language be gender neutral and another not?
(Mar-04-2011, 04:35 AM (UTC))redchild Wrote: [ -> ]I've heard of a couple who named their baby with letters and digits.

How's THAT for gender-neutral?

Uhhuh

As for the questions, I have nothing intelligent to contribute at present! Blushing

It did all, however, make me think of inanimate objects (other than the usual ships, cars etc) I assign as having 'genders' in everyday life...such as the male and female thread or parts of hose and pipe fittings and the male and female parts of connective cords such as coax cables. It's much easier to call up someone on the two-way and say something like, "The pipe's busted. Can you bring me down a part with a female thread from the shed?" P
(Mar-04-2011, 10:09 AM (UTC))redchild Wrote: [ -> ]That does beg the question(s): to what extent does the use or non-use of gender specific pronouns in a language affect how people relate to each other according to gender?

I think I could take that question a couple of ways such as: a) that the males and females of a land who do not use gender-specific pronouns in their language possibly have a more equal footing with each other; two-way admiration and respect etc within society in general or b) the addition of a gender-specific pronoun, say in text, creates a firm distinction between the genders and the response to any gender-specific pronoun (I guess) depends on that society's viewpoint of each gender and such things as gender equality/inequality etc, not to mention personal experience with any given gender?

...OR I have missed the point of the question entirely?! Big Grin

(Mar-04-2011, 10:09 AM (UTC))redchild Wrote: [ -> ]I don't think it likely that the first languages created would be gender-neutral, so do languages evolve to be gender neutral? Why would one language be gender neutral and another not?

Not having any real knowledge of other languages outside of English, I feel at a real disadvantage with such topics, especially as the English language has no singular form of a gender-neutral pronoun (that I am aware of?)! You could say "Give that to its owner" but you'd be talking about an animal or thing, not a human. It's no problem in the plural form with 'their' or 'they' or 'them'...

Of course, there are many instances throughout history where the male pronoun has been used as a generic or gender-neutral term, I suppose, and is even used in many texts today though just as often alternated with 'she'...ah, what's an example?? Tsk, I can't come up with anything so will have to think on that (!!) but, you know, rather than write man/woman or he/she every time, a text will just use the one pronoun to include both genders eg The following sentence may be found in a parenting magazine: "Should the child scream, hold him tight to your chest as the needle is inserted into his arm." This use of 'him' includes female children as well.

Oh, what about "All men are created equal"? That's an example that no doubt had many Amercian women gnashing their teeth for a good many years, though it could be said that it was first stated that way as women were truly not considered to be equal to men at that stage (??)...that it was only that all men were created equal in comparison to other men? I'm not sure, I'd have to look it up!

Sorry, I think I've gone off track...if I was ever on it!! It doesn't help that I am procrastinating BADLY on a big job I have to complete, despite it now being 4:30am!! P
Having gender-specific pronouns can be quite the hassle... especially on words that do not really need one...
I'm learning French at the moment - so gender direct object pronouns really annoy me... Big Grin

To confirm, I am female, and you can call me Athena without the "Paragon" tacked on - I named my account that because when I tried to join as simply "Athena" it said that my details matched those of a "known spammer" which I assure you I am not... (Sure, I love Paragon but he is in no way part of my identity...)

And 'thul beings, I always though of you as male, but I thought of Mervi as female automatically. Maybe it was because of Mervi's avatar?
it is hard to say what lies behind such...

but a neutral avatar and with no comments to go about that reveal it, one will naturally assume something...
I must admit that I am so utterly obsessed by the books that I always see Paragon-Althea on my first read...and then have to check myself! P

EDIT: Supposed to be cooking dinner for not only my family but a couple of other men...still, what's another comment? Big Grin I seem to have forgotten to mention that Mervi's avatar is almost exactly like a dragon crest I saw on my "crest and sigil" search the other night. Is it from something like that, that you found it, Mervi?
(Mar-04-2011, 07:32 PM (UTC))Farseer Wrote: [ -> ]I think I could take that question a couple of ways such as: a) that the males and females of a land who do not use gender-specific pronouns in their language possibly have a more equal footing with each other; two-way admiration and respect etc within society in general or b) the addition of a gender-specific pronoun, say in text, creates a firm distinction between the genders and the response to any gender-specific pronoun (I guess) depends on that society's viewpoint of each gender and such things as gender equality/inequality etc, not to mention personal experience with any given gender?

Interesting that you mention social distinctions in terms of relationships and social equality/inequality. Social expectations can definitely affect the way people use language. An anthropological view can also supplement this. Perhaps the existence and use of gender-specific pronouns can denote a sort of class or work division between men and women, so that areas with gender-neutral pronouns can imply that the culture of the language spoken generally has gender-neutral ideas of delegating work between the sexes. When work is just considered "work" and not "men's" or "women's work," will it alter the way the language is used to indicate sex?

I came across an interesting article on the Mbuti people as an egalitarian society with a gender-inclusive culture and language. An interesting contrast with western society.

Quote:Not having any real knowledge of other languages outside of English, I feel at a real disadvantage with such topics, especially as the English language has no singular form of a gender-neutral pronoun (that I am aware of?)! You could say "Give that to its owner" but you'd be talking about an animal or thing, not a human. It's no problem in the plural form with 'their' or 'they' or 'them'...

Yeah it is more difficult to keep a conversation gender neutral in English. It is possible, but I suppose the difficulty lies in choosing the appropriate words to avoid offense or awkwardness, as well as a deeply ingrained habit of indicating whether somebody is a he or she.

I suppose that when specifically talking about an individual, you are expected to know the person's sex? Maybe this is a general aspect of individualistic societies vs collectivist, who are more likely to address an individual as a unit?

Some languages are gender neutral when spoken, but are specific when written. In Chinese, the same pronunciation is used to indicate "he," "she," "it," or "they" (with the indication that it is a group.) You wouldn't necessarily know whether the person being spoken about is male or female unless clarified. In writing, however, you would use the male or female radical and you would use the male-variant to describe a mixed group.

Quote:Oh, what about "All men are created equal"? That's an example that no doubt had many Amercian women gnashing their teeth for a good many years, though it could be said that it was first stated that way as women were truly not considered to be equal to men at that stage (??)...that it was only that all men were created equal in comparison to other men? I'm not sure, I'd have to look it up!

I've always took that to mean equality in legal matters. At the time men pretty much dominated representation in law and politics, so I supposed the line meant that.

Should the Declaration be written in an environment where women were more or less equally represented, or, in the case of today's western society, not equally represented but enough to have to be considered, then I suppose it would be changed to say "persons" or "citizens" or some other gender-neutral word. And seeing as people are more aware of sexual identities outside of just man/woman, it probably wouldn't say "men and women."

Quote:Sorry, I think I've gone off track...if I was ever on it!! It doesn't help that I am procrastinating BADLY on a big job I have to complete, despite it now being 4:30am!! P

Somehow I get the feeling that your idea of "procrastinating" wildly differs from mine Angel
These beings do not find it all that difficult to keep a conversation gender neutral.

the complete lack of the use of personal pronouns makes it fairly easy. But truthfully it is easier for beings that have years of practice avoiding certain personal pronouns than it is for someone new to it.
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