21 March 2013

She/he

A blog friend was kind enough to share this information with me. I found it to be very informative and since I am always interested to know about differences in languages, I thought of posting this here:

In English poetry the objects do have specific genders.." if you choose male or female, however depends not simply on the context, but on the "character" that this item carries. So I guess if the poem is about a gently blowing summer wind, this will be a SHE, but if it is about a horrible thunderstorm, this must be a HE. A nice, colourful, delicate and well-smelling flower will most likely be assigned a female gender. But if the poem is about a carnovourous plant, ugly looking and nastly smelling, it would be more appropriate to assigned it a male gender". 

"... There are some fixed cases of assigned gender: The Sea is always male, whereas ships are always female. In contrast to German, where the Sea is female (but the Ocean is male (?), and ships are neutral. So british poetry, like the british character in general, takes a very pragmatic position, in contrast to German, which you have to follow the rules of grammar, and where it does not matter whether you write a sonett or a car damage report."   by Michael

In Farsi, there is no female or male.

2 comments:

radius said...

Hi Daisy, to add even more confusion (or ambiguity) to this problem: An American friend who works as a teacher for English told me that assigning gender to unanimated objects in poetry is not common any more. She said it would even be confusing. This was just after I found that Shakespeare (in Midsummernight Dream) presents A WALL as male, and E.A.Poe considers THE MOON as female (in his poem Evening Star). I shall confront her with these two examples of classical literature, and condemn the loss of phantasy in contemporary speach.
greetings, Michael

radius said...

Hi Daisy, there is an interesting article here at The Economist (http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2012/04/gender?fsrc=scn%2Fgn_ec%2Fswedish_hens_and_singular_they) regarding novel ideas how to use gender typical or neutral vocabulary. in particular, what we have discussed here is the appropriate use of personal pronouns in case of undefined gender. They mention in this article the possibility to use a "singular they
best regards
Michael