GENDER INCLUSIVE ENGLISH - HELP NEEDED!

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basiek
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GENDER INCLUSIVE ENGLISH - HELP NEEDED!

Postby basiek » 2005-10-12, 16:25

Hello
I am a student of English in Poland and I could use some help collecting data on the use of gender inclusive English for my MA thesis.
I've prepared a questionnaire and posted it at http://www.ghnet.pl/~mjmth/questionnaire.rtf
if anyone could find some time to fill it out I would be extremely grateful
all the details and instructions are included in the rtf file
if anyone is willing to help please email the filled out questionnaire to basiek@poczta.fm
Thank you!

amoeba

Postby amoeba » 2005-10-13, 3:17

I've completed the survey and I found some interesting points.

For example, I chose 'nurse' as the gender neutral form, but admitted that when speaking about a nurse, I was more likely to use 'she/her' than 'they/them'.

Also, I found that while I recognize some feminine forms for male nouns (e.g. governess for governor), I would still use the male forms for gender neutral. So, I would never call Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean by the title, *Governess General.

And interestingly enough, I think everyone uses the term 'freshman' for women. But 'freshman' isn't a word often used in Canada, from my experience.

English speakers want to eradicate all gender titles in their language, but at the same time speakers of most other European languages are more at ease with them. I think it's because English has so few grammatical gender distinctions, and so any nouns or pronouns to be found in only masculine or feminine forms are seen to be sexist. I personally don't find anything sexist at all about saying 'one should mind his business' or 'each nurse should take her precautions', because I think it makes the language more vivid and expressive. It's the speakers who may be sexist: language is sexless. But that could just be a biased male perspective, who knows :?

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Ariki
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Postby Ariki » 2005-10-13, 4:43

Hmmm I took a look (haven't completed it yet, will do so tomorrow), and for the most part, it amazes me at how much gender there is in use in English. For Māori, you'll be lucky to find a small corpus of words that are strictly gender based.

For the most part, gender does not apply to Māori (or the majority of Eastern Polynesian languages).
Linguicide IS genocide. :)

He ingoa ōpaki a Riki; he ingoa ōkawa a Ariki.

Riki is an informal name; Ariki is a formal name.

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Postby greg-fr » 2005-10-13, 7:20

My impression is that English — like French — has 4 semantic genders :
    — masculine : male-sexed animates (man, uncle...)
    — feminine : female-sexed animates (mother, niece...)
    — weak neuter : animate or group of animates of undetermined/unspecified sex (the Germans, the person...)
    — strong neuter : inanimates, necessarily sexless (table, moon...).


In French grammatical genderness — either grammatical feminine or grammatical masculine — is always marked directly (la table, le soleil, le ministre, le laideron, la sentinelle, la horde...) whatever the semantic gender. In English semantical genderness may be grammatically marked, albeit undirectly :
    — this man : he (semantic masculine, one single mark)
    — your mother : she (semantic feminine, one single mark)
    — a table : it (strong neuter, one single mark)
    — a ship : it / she (strong neuter : 2 possible marks)
    — the Spaniards : they (weak neuter, no mark)
    — anyone : he / he or she / they (weak neuter, 3 possible marks).



As amoeba mentioned, though, grammatical gender-mark may be direct in English too. For instance emperess is a gender-marked noun imported from Old French, a language with grammatical genders, and huntress was coined with a grammatically gender-marked suffix — as far as animates are concerned — imported from the same gender-marked language.


Do you agree with that ?

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Postby Alcadras » 2005-10-13, 12:39

riki wrote:Hmmm I took a look (haven't completed it yet, will do so tomorrow), and for the most part, it amazes me at how much gender there is in use in English. For Māori, you'll be lucky to find a small corpus of words that are strictly gender based.

For the most part, gender does not apply to Māori (or the majority of Eastern Polynesian languages).

malay or indonesian i think , also have only one gender

him and her have the same word ,i can't remember the word.

and it is the same with the others

amoeba

Postby amoeba » 2005-10-13, 13:45

English also has a few cases where nouns have [corrected:]explicit gender in some uses - e.g.

The ship, she sails the seven seas.
England and her colonies.
The car, she's a beauty.

Of course these are not obligatorily feminine, but the meaning is understood if the gender is marked.

The fact that Māori doesn't have as many gender distinctions as English does is just a fact of language. Indo-European languages have one, two, or three (masculine, feminine, neuter) groups of nouns (genders). Other languages group words in a different way, semantically - some Native American languages use an inanimate/animate distinction, some West African languages group nouns into more than 20 categories depending on their physical or abstract properties, and there's even an Australian language with a noun class that groups together women, fire, and dangerous objects! I don't know what kind of distinctions there are in Polynesian languages.

I guess the point I'm trying it make, is that gender distinctions in grammar are just another convenient way to organize language, and don't imply that the speakers necessarily think in a sexist way.
Last edited by amoeba on 2005-10-14, 0:24, edited 1 time in total.

greg-fr
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Postby greg-fr » 2005-10-13, 20:53

amoeba, in the sentences you mentioned :
    the ship, she sails the seven seas
    England and her colonies
    the car, she's a beauty,
all three nouns have explicit grammatical gender since they are all co-ordinated or followed by grammatical-feminine markers, which happen to be pronouns. The three of them are nonetheless strong semantical neuters — inanimates — as neither a ship nor England nor a car has a physical sex.



In the following sentences :
    the ship, it sails the seven seas
    England and its colonies
    the car, it's a beauty,

all three nouns have explicit grammatical gender — grammatical neuter — since both it and its refer to neither masculine animates nor feminine animates nor sexually undetermined animates nor any group of animates but to asexual inanimates.

amoeba

Postby amoeba » 2005-10-14, 0:25

Thank you Greg :)
I've corrected my post.

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Ariki
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Postby Ariki » 2005-10-14, 0:38

That word would be 'ia' (it's used throughout in the Polynesian languages too).
Linguicide IS genocide. :)

He ingoa ōpaki a Riki; he ingoa ōkawa a Ariki.

Riki is an informal name; Ariki is a formal name.

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Postby Stan » 2005-10-14, 1:07

I usually use the pronoun "they" gender-neutrally referring to somebody

It is easier than "he or she"
if I was President,
I'd get elected on Friday
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buried on Sunday

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Postby Travis B. » 2005-10-14, 8:17

Stan wrote:I usually use the pronoun "they" gender-neutrally referring to somebody

It is easier than "he or she"


At least here, "they" is the sole gender-neutral form in usage when it comes to the second person singular; I rarely hear "he or she" in actual usage as such, and the usage "he" (which is simply something prescribed by some grammarians in the 19th century) is simply not used for such here in actual speech.
secretGeek on CodingHorror wrote:Type inference is not a gateway drug to more dynamically typed languages.

Rather "var" is a gateway drug toward "real" type inferencing, of which var is but a tiny cigarette to the greater crack mountain!

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Postby Gormur » 2005-10-14, 20:23

Travis B. wrote:
Stan wrote:I usually use the pronoun "they" gender-neutrally referring to somebody

It is easier than "he or she"


At least here, "they" is the sole gender-neutral form in usage when it comes to the second person singular; I rarely hear "he or she" in actual usage as such, and the usage "he" (which is simply something prescribed by some grammarians in the 19th century) is simply not used for such here in actual speech.


So you would say, i.e. -

Sally works. They are a teacher.

Is that correct? :o

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Postby Stan » 2005-10-14, 21:05

Gormur wrote:
Travis B. wrote:
Stan wrote:I usually use the pronoun "they" gender-neutrally referring to somebody

It is easier than "he or she"


At least here, "they" is the sole gender-neutral form in usage when it comes to the second person singular; I rarely hear "he or she" in actual usage as such, and the usage "he" (which is simply something prescribed by some grammarians in the 19th century) is simply not used for such here in actual speech.


So you would say, i.e. -

Sally works. They are a teacher.

Is that correct? :o


No, no no no no no no no no !

Sally is a "she"

thus there is no need to be gender-neutral
if I was President,

I'd get elected on Friday

assassinated on Saturday

buried on Sunday

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Postby Stan » 2005-10-14, 21:07

"They" is used when you want to be gender-neutral

And "they" isn't normally used at the beginning of a sentence in this way either
if I was President,

I'd get elected on Friday

assassinated on Saturday

buried on Sunday

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Postby Gormur » 2005-10-14, 21:14

Stan wrote:No, no no no no no no no no ! Sally is a "she", thus there is no need to be gender-neutral


Either way, I don't understand the context for using "they". Could you give me an example or two?

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Postby Stan » 2005-10-14, 21:53

this page offers some interesting commentary on the issue: http://www.crossmyt.com/hc/linghebr/austheir.html#X1a
if I was President,

I'd get elected on Friday

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buried on Sunday

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Postby Stan » 2005-10-14, 22:00

one of the examples:

"Will no one allow me the honour of helping them?
if I was President,

I'd get elected on Friday

assassinated on Saturday

buried on Sunday

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Postby Gormur » 2005-10-15, 0:11

Stan wrote:one of the examples:

"Will no one allow me the honour of helping them?


To me, this would imply 2nd person plural; using "them". Another example from the article...

"Everybody loves his own mother".


I've heard this, though it sounds rather like something a 30 or 40 something might say. To me, it sounds like "everyone loves his mother". I would say "everybody loves their own mother".

Interesting anyway...

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Postby Travis B. » 2005-10-15, 4:17

Gormur wrote:
Stan wrote:No, no no no no no no no no ! Sally is a "she", thus there is no need to be gender-neutral


Either way, I don't understand the context for using "they". Could you give me an example or two?


The thing is that singular "they", at least from my experience, is not generally used in all cases, but rather in cases where a individuals' gender is irrelevant, and if the individual is specific their gender has not already been made known (by, say, referring to them with a gender-specific name), or in cases where an individual's gender is simply unknown. If an individual has already been named (except with a gender-ambiguous name) or referred to with "he" or "she", then one generally does not subsequently use singular "they" to refer to them.
secretGeek on CodingHorror wrote:Type inference is not a gateway drug to more dynamically typed languages.

Rather "var" is a gateway drug toward "real" type inferencing, of which var is but a tiny cigarette to the greater crack mountain!

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Ariki
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Postby Ariki » 2005-10-15, 5:27

Either way, I don't understand the context for using "they". Could you give me an example or two?


That person who brought the loaves of bread for us, they are a good example for all of us to follow in how we should bring food along to eat as well.

Here we have a classic example of where gender is irrelevant in the phrase where 'they' is used because of the context and meaning in the phrase before hand.

The 'they' is anaphoric to 'That person', which is gender neutral because it does not specifically define whether it is a man or a woman that is being talked about.
Linguicide IS genocide. :)

He ingoa ōpaki a Riki; he ingoa ōkawa a Ariki.

Riki is an informal name; Ariki is a formal name.


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