PDA

View Full Version : The female gods



Kurald Galain
2008-07-22, 09:42 AM
I'm wondering why, in the 4E player's handbook, female gods are referred to as "gods" when there's a perfectly serviceable word "goddess" around (confusing at least one of my players into thinking the entire pantheon was male). Is this political correctness at its finest?

hamishspence
2008-07-22, 09:53 AM
"god" is easier to use than "deity" maybe. That said I can live with it: they aren't really beings with a gender at all. Moradin is not a dwarf, Bahamut not a dragon, Corellon not an elf: they is "extrdimensional beings" and just cos they are depicted as male or female does not mean they really are.

Another_Poet
2008-07-22, 09:59 AM
Also, it may be a move toward a more feminist perspective. Not all women feel this way, but many people feel that having separate gender words for a given job ("actor" and "actress", "sorceror" and "sorceress", "god" and "goddess") undermines equal rights. It implies that, even though both do the same job, they are somehow different - and thus one is potentially "better" than the other.

Obviously, lots of people like the -ess words because it's what they're used to or because it gives a certain feel to something, but any publication that's making an effort to be inclusive and egalitarian tends to do away with them. And female gamers are a growing demographic...

ap

Kurald Galain
2008-07-22, 10:02 AM
Also, it may be a move toward a more feminist perspective. Not all women feel this way, but many people feel that having separate gender words for a given job ("actor" and "actress", "sorceror" and "sorceress", "god" and "goddess") undermines equal rights.

That is an interesting sentiment. I've also spoken to women who had the exact opposite idea...

Ascension
2008-07-22, 10:04 AM
Judging from my (admittedly limited) theater experience, the word "actress" is swiftly going the way of the dodo. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that "goddess" is on its way out too.

Another_Poet
2008-07-22, 10:04 AM
That is an interesting sentiment. I've also spoken to women who had the exact opposite idea...

Yeah, you can't please all of the peoplesses all of the time.

Ralfarius
2008-07-22, 10:07 AM
I often wonder if English is the only language that is consistently undergoing removal of masculine/feminine forms of nouns specifically for the purpose of gender equality.

Joran
2008-07-22, 10:12 AM
I often wonder if English is the only language that is consistently undergoing removal of masculine/feminine forms of nouns specifically for the purpose of gender equality.

We already got rid of the masculine/feminine forms of everything else. My creative writing teacher claimed that blond/blonde is the only word left that changes spelling based on whether it refers to a male or a female.

There are debates whether or not he/him/his can count as gender neutral in manuals and such. I read a manual where they explicitly put in the opening pages that "all references to he/him/his should be considered gender neutral". I noticed RPG books tend to alternate genders. "He in one place, She in a another"

P.S. Back on track, I was a bit confused by that as well. It took me a couple takes to realize that Sehanine was a female, since they refer her as a "god" and I breezed right through the pronouns =P

Lochar
2008-07-22, 10:14 AM
Probably. I know German is a good language to look at for seperation of masculine, feminine, and neutral termed words. :P

Fenix_of_Doom
2008-07-22, 10:24 AM
We already got rid of the masculine/feminine forms of everything else. My creative writing teacher claimed that blond/blonde is the only word left that changes spelling based on whether it refers to a male or a female.


Funny that you mention it, I ran into Fiancée/Fiancé a while ago.

Caduceus
2008-07-22, 10:37 AM
Of course, Fenix, that's not really an English word, but a word borrowed from French for use in the English lexicon.

Another_Poet
2008-07-22, 10:37 AM
There are debates whether or not he/him/his can count as gender neutral in manuals and such.

It used to be considered acceptable. A few years back (2000ish?) the MLA decided that the use of "they" as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun is good practice. As in, "Hey, is that friend of yours doing okay? Did they get out of the hospital yet?"

Of course not everyone agrees with the MLA, but it sure beats "ze".

ap

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-22, 11:13 AM
It used to be considered acceptable. A few years back (2000ish?) the MLA decided that the use of "they" as a singular, gender-neutral pronoun is good practice. As in, "Hey, is that friend of yours doing okay? Did they get out of the hospital yet?"

Of course not everyone agrees with the MLA, but it sure beats "ze".

ap

Forget that.

Use Spivak Pronouns (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spivak_pronoun) - they're the only gender-neutral patch to the English language that was created by a mad mathematician!

Kd7sov
2008-07-22, 11:20 AM
Of course, Fenix, that's not really an English word, but a word borrowed from French for use in the English lexicon.

That is... not really a valid distinction. English is, after all, derived from a combination of (earlier forms of) French and German. On top of that, it tends to borrow words and integrate them into common usage.

You could reasonably say the same thing about, for instance, envelope or rendezvous, both of which are in common use in English but are largely unchanged from their French forms.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-22, 11:54 AM
You could reasonably say the same thing about, for instance, envelope or rendezvous, both of which are in common use in English but are largely unchanged from their French forms.

I'm sorry, but didn't you mean to say "freedom pouch" and "freedom meeting?" :smallbiggrin:

Rachel Lorelei
2008-07-22, 12:04 PM
That is an interesting sentiment. I've also spoken to women who had the exact opposite idea...

Welcome to feminism. It's as divided as any other philosophy.

Fenix_of_Doom
2008-07-22, 12:20 PM
That is... not really a valid distinction. English is, after all, derived from a combination of (earlier forms of) French and German. On top of that, it tends to borrow words and integrate them into common usage.

You could reasonably say the same thing about, for instance, envelope or rendezvous, both of which are in common use in English but are largely unchanged from their French forms.

This is also one of the things I wonder about, how long does a word has to be in a language in order to be part of it instead of being a "borrowed" word.
However the point still stands to some decree, there are examples of Latin and Greek words which have weird plural forms.


I'm sorry, but didn't you mean to say "freedom pouch" and "freedom meeting?" :smallbiggrin:
?

Joran
2008-07-22, 12:29 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Oracle_Hunter View Post
I'm sorry, but didn't you mean to say "freedom pouch" and "freedom meeting?"

?

Here in the States, we have a running joke where we bash the French. Someone suggested that since we don't like the French (I think this had to do with political issues regarding Iraq), that we rename everything that is "French" to "Freedom". So, French fries became "Freedom Fries". And now, the joke has long outlived whatever political issues spawned it. (The name "Freedom Fries" didn't stick).

This is similar to what happened in the United States during World War I, in which, we renamed sauerkraut to "Liberty Cabbage". It didn't stick either.

Edit: It was about Iraq, and a congressman suggested it. See Wikipedia article here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Fries).

Rachel Lorelei
2008-07-22, 12:33 PM
This is similar to what happened in the United States during World War I, in which, we renamed sauerkraut to "Liberty Cabbage". It didn't stick either.

Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

Fenix_of_Doom
2008-07-22, 12:37 PM
Brilliant, to take a shot at your historicly greatest ally like that, just brilliant.

BTW, was that the same event that spawned the France surrenders jokes?

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-22, 12:43 PM
Brilliant, to take a shot at your historicly greatest ally like that, just brilliant.

BTW, was that the same event that spawned the France surrenders jokes?

I guess it works better than helping out the country that we rebelled against, and then burned down DC? Twice?

"France Surrenders" gained currency during Afghanistan/Iraq, but it stems from their poor performance in WWII and their general refusal to kick ass in the name of the US during the Cold War. Of course, this completely ignores Napoleon's great success during the Napoleonic Wars, but I guess times change :smallamused:

Say... weren't we talking about gendered language a minute ago? What's everyone's favorite gender-neutral fix? I challenge you to defeat the Spivak Pronoun!

Telonius
2008-07-22, 12:46 PM
Ah, German, where a necktie (Krawatte) is feminine, a young girl (Maedchen) is neuter, and you have to remember about fifteen different words for "the." :smallbiggrin:

I'd heard that there was some debate about adopting the feminine pronoun ("die") as the only one, has there been any movement on that recently?

The Demented One
2008-07-22, 12:47 PM
Sigh...am I the only person who likes how feminine nouns sounds? Actress, aviatrix, goddess...perfectly useful, pleasant-sounding words, gone for no legitimate reason.

[/grammar is serious business]

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-22, 12:54 PM
Sigh...am I the only person who likes how feminine nouns sounds? Actress, aviatrix, goddess...perfectly useful, pleasant-sounding words, gone for no legitimate reason.

[/grammar is serious business]

Executrix remains my favorite feminine word. Doesn't it sound sinisterly alluring? :smallbiggrin:

The Demented One
2008-07-22, 01:02 PM
Executrix remains my favorite feminine word. Doesn't it sound sinisterly alluring? :smallbiggrin:
-ix endings remain one of the best things ever. Manipulatrix is a favorite for me.

Fenix_of_Doom
2008-07-22, 01:04 PM
Ah, German, where a necktie (Krawatte) is feminine, a young girl (Maedchen) is neuter, and you have to remember about fifteen different words for "the." :smallbiggrin:

I'd heard that there was some debate about adopting the feminine pronoun ("die") as the only one, has there been any movement on that recently?

Mädchen is only neutral because (generally) all words are neutral in small form "maid"(IIRC) is feminine, although not used often.

Kalirren
2008-07-22, 01:17 PM
Concerning "they", it isn't just a recent decision. The use of the "singular they" has been in the English language for as long as English as a language has existed.

I find it to an extent natural to associate the use of "they" in the singular as opposed to "he" or "she" with a certain type of generality, akin to the use of an indefinite article "a" or "an" as opposed to "the". I'm not sure if this sentiment is shared.

Compare, for instance, the following two sets of sentences:

No mother should be forced to testify against her child.
No father should be forced to testify against his child.

and

No mother should be forced to testify against their child.
No father should be forced to testify against their child.

Notice that (presumably) the sex and gender of the mother/father is assumed, so the use of "her/his" as opposed to "they" would be redundant if they are truly pragmatically equivalent, as is often assumed to be the case. However, I read these sentences differently.

Specifically, when the more specific "his/her" is used, e.g., No mother should be forced to testify against her child, I associate "his/her" with a specific, if hypothetical person. There is to me an implication that this situation could in fact crop up to someone I know, or at least that I should consider it from a more personal viewpoint. I do not get these additional feelings from the use of "they".

More succinctly, the expression No mother should be forced to testify against their child does not bring the situation into my monkeysphere (Google it) the way the expression No mother should be forced to testify against her child does. I would be interested to hear if others find the same.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-22, 01:50 PM
Concerning "they", it isn't just a recent decision. The use of the "singular they" has been in the English language for as long as English as a language has existed.

I find it to an extent natural to associate the use of "they" in the singular as opposed to "he" or "she" with a certain type of generality, akin to the use of an indefinite article "a" or "an" as opposed to "the". I'm not sure if this sentiment is shared.

This breaks down when you have to use a pronoun for a specific, hypothetical (or real) person.

"No mother should be forced to testify against their child" works because you are considering a vast class of women who are mothers. However, consider:

"The President should never be forced to put their self-interest above their duty to the country."

This is a specific, hypothetical person, but referring to em in a form commonly used as a plural is off-setting. It gets worse when used in the subject.

"The judge holds a weighty position in modern society. They should never commit acts that are beneath their office."

Weird, no?

Spivak says:
"The President should never be forced to put eir self-interest above eir duty to the country."

"The judge holds a weighty position in modern soceity. Ey should never commit acts that are beneath eir office."

Spivak FTW! :smallbiggrin:

TheThan
2008-07-22, 02:09 PM
but "They" is plural, so when you're referring to a single person, it's still bad grammar.

Dausuul
2008-07-22, 02:12 PM
Of course, Fenix, that's not really an English word, but a word borrowed from French for use in the English lexicon.

That covers half of English. It's been in our language for at least a century (I base this assertion on the fact that it shows up in Sherlock Holmes stories). Therefore it's ours now.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-22, 02:13 PM
but "They" is plural, so when you're referring to a single person, it's still bad grammar.

Which is why it's a bad way to go about neutering English. Better to make up a new pronoun which sounds similar to the standard he/him/his progression.

Spivak says: Ey, em, eir, eirs! :smallbiggrin:

Siosilvar
2008-07-22, 02:15 PM
Probably. I know German is a good language to look at for seperation of masculine, feminine, and neutral termed words. :P

Ach, sprechen Sie Deutsch?

I've taken one or two high school German classes so far, and the only problem I've had with pronouns, at least, is "big Sie, little sie".

Jayabalard
2008-07-22, 02:22 PM
Of course, Fenix, that's not really an English word, but a word borrowed from French for use in the English lexicon.Yup, that's an english word; that's what happens once english "borrows" it.

Ruzak
2008-07-22, 02:34 PM
Semi-relevant Quiz:
What is the only word in the English language that is feminine, and adds a suffix to become male?

answer:
widow (widower)

Telonius
2008-07-22, 03:01 PM
This breaks down when you have to use a pronoun for a specific, hypothetical (or real) person.

"No mother should be forced to testify against their child" works because you are considering a vast class of women who are mothers. However, consider:

"The President should never be forced to put their self-interest above their duty to the country."

This is a specific, hypothetical person, but referring to em in a form commonly used as a plural is off-setting. It gets worse when used in the subject.

"The judge holds a weighty position in modern society. They should never commit acts that are beneath their office."

Weird, no?

Spivak says:
"The President should never be forced to put eir self-interest above eir duty to the country."

"The judge holds a weighty position in modern soceity. Ey should never commit acts that are beneath eir office."

Spivak FTW! :smallbiggrin:

The problem with your "president" example, is that it's referring to a specific President - the President - and that particular President has a gender. If you formulate it like this: "No President should ever be forced to put their self-interest above their country," or "A President should never be forced to put their self-interest above their country," it works much better.

EDIT: I'm sure there are some underlying rules about when "their" is appropriate or not based on syntax, but I've been out of Linguistics class for much too long, and am far too lazy, to figure them out. :smallsmile:

mikeejimbo
2008-07-22, 03:07 PM
Back to the original original question, I thought that 'god' could be used as a gender-neutral term as well. Like in the title of this very thread, 'the female gods'.

Another_Poet
2008-07-22, 03:09 PM
It's funny how things work. I used to be irked at singular "they" because I (mistakenly) thought it was bad grammar, but between hearing it a lot, finding out it has been approved as correct grammar by the MLA, and realising it's an easy way not to offend people, it's grown on me.

On the other hand when I first saw the Spivak pronouns I liked them, but now that Oracle_Hunter has been pushing them like ey has a quota to make, they're the ones that irk me.

Sorry O_H.

ap

mikeejimbo
2008-07-22, 03:29 PM
I personally disagree with the MLA. In my opinion you should always use 'him or her' or 'he or she.' I probably don't do it enough in practice, though. :smallredface:

nargbop
2008-07-22, 03:30 PM
I once said to a friend of mine :
I will say "actress" after you say "doctress". In public.

Kalirren
2008-07-22, 03:32 PM
Apparently Baltimore teenagers have come up with their own solution to the gender-neutral pronoun issue:

http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/~myl/languagelog/archives/005298.html

In addition to being a variant on "your", "Yo" is apparently well-recognized in their lexicon as a third-person singular, e.g.,
"Yo's tucking in his shirt,"
"Yo's wearing a jacket" (pointing out the window at someone walking on the street)
"Yo handin' out papers" (in reference to a female teacher)

But to re-rail the thread, yeah, gods are gods. Goddesses are gods, but gods are not goddesses. That's pretty old. Gods' genders really only matter in relation to each other, and 4E doesn't elaborate on many of the details of its pantheon's historical internal relations anyway. No mention of Sehanine being one aspect of the triune wife of Corellon, for an obvious one. And they screwed up the entire history of Iouwam too, from which Ioun's name derives. (In FR, Iouwam was Netherese mage. In addition to having invented the mythallar, he also invented the eponymous Iouwam's stones, which morphed phonetically into Ioun stones.)

kamikasei
2008-07-22, 03:35 PM
I would suspect it's so that they can say "god" instead of "deity" elsewhere in the text (e.g., "the cleric's god...") without implying that only the male deities are relevant, or that they're assuming all clerics worship male deities, or anything like that.


Which is why it's a bad way to go about neutering English. Better to make up a new pronoun which sounds similar to the standard he/him/his progression.

Not particularly. Why try to create a new word from scratch when you can just co-opt an old one? Sure, it's "bad grammar" if your grammar book says "they" is plural and only plural. But grammar is fluid, and if you have a hole in your language, you might as well use the materials to hand to plug it. Then new grammar manuals are published which state that "they" can be both plural and singular depending on usage. Everyone wins!

Generally I'm opposed to "language changes" arguments, because they're often propping up incorporating corruptions into the language in a way that obscures the original meaning (pet peeve example: "should of". Or the real rage-inducer, "could care less"). I don't like the idea of taking a construction that does a job and mucking it about in such a way that it no longer means what it did, and arbitrarily declaring it to have the same meaning - I see it as damaging the semantics of the language. Developing a convention to add a role to a word or term which isn't being served by anything else, though, is a different matter.

Additionally: I miss the word "ye", and use it a lot in my own speech. It's a damn good and useful word, why did it fall into disuse?


*stuff about the histories of gods*

I would expect most of the FR histories of the gods to be included in the FR material to be released in the next while. I don't think they "left it out" of the core books, I think it doesn't apply to the core deities just because they've been lifted from the setting, any more than a given bit of info about Corellon stated in the FR books was necessarily true in other games in 3rd edition. (Prime example: Lolth.)

mikeejimbo
2008-07-22, 03:37 PM
The problem is, though, at least in my opinion, that 'they' is ambiguous. Are you talking about singular or plural?

(Though I really, really hate 'should of.')

Fenix_of_Doom
2008-07-22, 03:38 PM
I once said to a friend of mine :
I will say "actress" after you say "doctress". In public.

Shouldn't that be doctrix?

kamikasei
2008-07-22, 03:46 PM
The problem is, though, at least in my opinion, that 'they' is ambiguous. Are you talking about singular or plural?

I wonder how often you need to distinguish a singular from a plural use of "they", compared with how often you need to distinguish whether you're saying "he" (or "she", for that matter) meaning a hypothetical male or a hypothetical person of any gender, with context not making it clear in either case.

"If someone comes down here, they'll get a shock." - not likely to matter whether it's one or several someones.

"The person standing on the platform can see a whole landscape spread out before them." - "the person" establishes that it's singular.

Natural languages are already triple-ambiguity-chip muffins with ambiguity sprinklings, we don't need to strive for perfect unambiguity in every extension we make. We do precision engineering with squodgy, half-liquid components all the time in our speech.

Kalirren
2008-07-22, 03:50 PM
Shouldn't that be doctrix?

And for that matter, "actrix". It's just that English is a rip-off of French (among other things), so the ending -ix became -esse/-ess in the English/French way of spelling things. "Poetess" is a really weird one, though. The Latin is "poeta", first-declension masculine, and really shouldn't take an ending derived from -ix. Chalk up another corruption.

I'd also add that in the modern lexicon, -ix also indicative of an intent to associate a sense of exotica with the word, hence its usage in both D&D and sex.

Fenix_of_Doom
2008-07-22, 04:08 PM
And for that matter, "actrix".

Could be, I wasn't (and still aren't) sure if actor was derived from Latin because if you translate it into "sister" languages the way it's written varies, while doctor seems to be a rather international concept.

Little_Rudo
2008-07-22, 04:21 PM
There are debates whether or not he/him/his can count as gender neutral in manuals and such. I read a manual where they explicitly put in the opening pages that "all references to he/him/his should be considered gender neutral". I noticed RPG books tend to alternate genders. "He in one place, She in a another"

Awhile ago, somebody made a post here complaining about how the 3.5 PHB switches between male and female pronouns, insisting that 'he' should always be used for gender-neutral pronouns. His argument kind of dissolved when someone pointed out the PHB doesn't switch genders for the sake of being PC, it switches based on the gender of the iconic PC for the class in question.

Gwyn chan 'r Gwyll
2008-07-22, 04:38 PM
In this particular case, I believe that there should be two different words, gods and goddesses, because
A) Then this thread wouldn't have to exist,
B) Wait, Sehanine's a girl? I THOUGHT so! I was all like, They changed Sehanine's gender, wieeerd.
C) There are perfectly good words out there, and getting rid of them doesn't make sense when they are still perfectly applicable.
D) To me, condensing a male word and the applicable female word into just the male word seems more sexist than having a female word that is on equal standing as the male word. It's not like in French, where in plural, where there's both genders, you use the male.
E) My mother was one of the prime lobbyers for the inclusion of the gender neutral 'they'
F) Nonetheless, those Spivak pronouns are awesome, and I'm going to use them.
G) I already use the Thou/thy/thine pronoun, and say 'shall', which no one does in Canada.

Chronos
2008-07-22, 05:37 PM
I'm a big fan of the Spivak pronouns, myself, since not only do they not have an implied gender, and they don't overload the meaning of an existing word, but they also fit naturally enough into the language that a person unfamiliar with them who encounters them for the first time can instantly deduce the meaning.

And yes, I know that singular "they" is probably going to win out in the end, and I know that all human languages (even the artificial ones like Esperanto, much though their creators might have intended otherwise) are rife with ambiguity, but that doesn't mean that I have to like all that ambiguity, and that I won't fight it given the opportunity.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-22, 06:06 PM
Not particularly. Why try to create a new word from scratch when you can just co-opt an old one? Sure, it's "bad grammar" if your grammar book says "they" is plural and only plural. But grammar is fluid, and if you have a hole in your language, you might as well use the materials to hand to plug it. Then new grammar manuals are published which state that "they" can be both plural and singular depending on usage. Everyone wins!

My argument here is not with "bad grammar" but rather with simple confusion. "They" already is accepted as a plural pronoun - to current English speakers, it can cause confusion and/or irritation in seeing familiar words in unfamiliar context.

Replacing "he" with "she," while unfamiliar, does not alter the intuitive grammatical role of the word, so it is far easier to adopt.

Now, using a Spivak pronoun takes something with a similar phonetic structure (ey sounds like he, no?) and no previous meaning. In writing, a new reader can quickly intuit the role that ey, em, eir and eirs is playing in the language, while a listener is comforted by the similar sounds.

Plus, you preserve "they" as a plural, allowing for easy understanding in ambiguous sentences.

Re: "The President"
I used "the President" because it can be used to speak about the position itself. We are talking about "a President" or a specific President, but about someone occupying the position of the President (of the United States). Thus, it is perfectly proper to refer to roles of that position, which is singular.

And let's not forget the use of neuter language when the gender is simply unknown, or we're dealing with fun pluralization:

"The moose roams where they like" or "The moose roams where ey like"

Making "they" do so much work wracks the language more than using a synthetic pronoun.

Also: Yay for some Spivak love :smallbiggrin:

vicente408
2008-07-22, 06:49 PM
I personally have never encountered a situation in which a person fluent in English has been confused as to the plurality of "they" when used in a sentence. Honestly, it is at this point so ingrained in usage that it would be nigh impossible to remove it. Besides, it's not like there aren't already a million other ambiguous and/or confusing things about English?

KillianHawkeye
2008-07-22, 07:29 PM
My personal favorite is "gladiatrix".

But if it's such a big deal to get rid of these feminine versions of existing words, then I demand we also remove feminine versions of existing names. So no more Michelle, Danielle, Jamie, Alexandria, Roberta, Brianna, Christina, Henrietta, Winifred, Gabrielle, Georgia, Jackie, Nicole, Patricia, and Stephany.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-22, 08:01 PM
My personal favorite is "gladiatrix".

But if it's such a big deal to get rid of these feminine versions of existing words, then I demand we also remove feminine versions of existing names. So no more Michelle, Danielle, Jamie, Alexandria, Roberta, Brianna, Christina, Henrietta, Winifred, Gabrielle, Georgia, Jackie, Nicole, Patricia, and Stephany.

Whups, I think you took a bridge too far.

The point with neutering English is, in one theory, based on the idea that sexing language is silly and can be derogatory to women where certain jobs can be inherently "gendered" in language (Congressman, Fireman, Stewardess, etc.) but not in fact.

Furthermore, using "he" as the de facto neutral pronoun alienates and marginalizes women... and is silly when dealing with ambiguous genders.

Personal names, as far as I know, don't inflict any harm on women. I may be corrected shortly, though.

Mark Hall
2008-07-22, 08:38 PM
1) The MLA is a corrupt organization. This is provable by their system of annotation for papers, which is horrid. :smallbiggrin:

2) English is derived from several heavily gendered languages. Anglo-Saxon, Norman French, ecclesiastical Latin, and Old Norse all have heavily gendered grammars. In the interest of reconciling these grammars, a lot of the endings were dropped; most of the root-words between Old Norse and Anglo-Saxon were similar, but the endings confused things.

3) Complain about the content of speech, not whether or not someone uses the "wrong" pronoun. I'm not oppressing women by calling a female deity a goddess. I'm oppressing women because I smack my ***** around and call every woman I meet sweet-****. Does it really matter at that point if I'm using gender-neutral pronouns?

Rachel Lorelei
2008-07-22, 08:41 PM
3) Complain about the content of speech, not whether or not someone uses the "wrong" pronoun. I'm not oppressing women by calling a female deity a goddess. I'm oppressing women because I smack my ***** around and call every woman I meet sweet-****. Does it really matter at that point if I'm using gender-neutral pronouns?

Does it matter if you are? No. Does it matter whether the vast majority of people in society are? I think it does, a little. Language shapes thought; we know this.

Mark Hall
2008-07-22, 08:59 PM
Does it matter if you are? No. Does it matter whether the vast majority of people in society are? I think it does, a little. Language shapes thought; we know this.

To a very limited extent, compared to social pressures. And social pressures have been egalitarian for my lifetime, at least.

Rachel Lorelei
2008-07-22, 09:06 PM
To a very limited extent, compared to social pressures. And social pressures have been egalitarian for my lifetime, at least.

It's a part of social pressures. If everything tells you male = default...

And social pressures still aren't egalitarian. This isn't the place to get into that, though.

shadow_archmagi
2008-07-22, 09:12 PM
Huh. You know, I've got a number of opinions on this. First off, I've always said "min."

You know, the humin race, a policemin, and so on? Its not an uncommon pronunciation. The result of this is than congressmin is not male; then it would be congressman. Obviously it is still spelled the same, but the result is that all words ending in man are gender neutral as far as I'm concerned.

That way we don't have to waste syllables saying "person," or worse, checking what gender someone is before we can say their profession.

Then words like plumberita can be used only for silly purposes.

Mark Hall
2008-07-22, 09:21 PM
It's a part of social pressures. If everything tells you male = default...

And social pressures still aren't egalitarian. This isn't the place to get into that, though.

And the rest of society is larger than grammar. How much tells boys that they are bad for being boys? How about a school system that is increasingly geared to girl's methods of learning, rather than boys? How many commercials show the man as an idiot, saved by his wise wife?

Heck, your name, Lorelei... while Lorelei killed herself, she did so because her lover was a horndog, and she kills men because they are horndogs.

KillianHawkeye
2008-07-22, 09:41 PM
Whups, I think you took a bridge too far.

Personal names, as far as I know, don't inflict any harm on women. I may be corrected shortly, though.

That was the idea. :smallwink: Taking it to the extreme shows how ridiculous removing feminine-form words really is. I still say 'goddess' & 'actress' and I always will. Because there's NOTHING WRONG WITH IT!

Sstoopidtallkid
2008-07-22, 09:42 PM
Remember, no politics.

Count D20
2008-07-22, 09:44 PM
The problem with your "president" example, is that it's referring to a specific President - the President - and that particular President has a gender. If you formulate it like this: "No President should ever be forced to put their self-interest above their country," or "A President should never be forced to put their self-interest above their country," it works much better.

EDIT: I'm sure there are some underlying rules about when "their" is appropriate or not based on syntax, but I've been out of Linguistics class for much too long, and am far too lazy, to figure them out. :smallsmile:

But what if the president is a hermaphrodite?:smallwink:

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-22, 09:57 PM
That was the idea. :smallwink: Taking it to the extreme shows how ridiculous removing feminine-form words really is. I still say 'goddess' & 'actress' and I always will. Because there's NOTHING WRONG WITH IT!

Nice try, but there is a literature talking about the harmful impact that gendered language has on women, while none (that I know of) that speaks of the harm caused by gendered names. Therefore, you can't exactly argue this to the ab absurdum level, or at least not plausibly.

Now, you can refute the literature on the matter, but since it is largely the result of speculation and dubious social science (IMHO) it's not easy to argue rationally.

However if you do want to remove gendering from language (and, to be honest, the costs of doing so seem minimal, so why not?) there are many ways to do it. I support Spivak Pronouns for the reasons I've stated, but there are many competing viewpoints.

Pronounceable
2008-07-23, 02:01 AM
I'm happy to have a gender neutral language. Other case is not worth it.

Words=good. Number of usable words in a language is (should be) a point of pride for the speakers. I don't see why people'd want to cut down on the number of words in their language.

And I don't care if there's anything wrong with it or not; I'll use goddess, sorceress and actress. Not to mention fireman, policeman and chairman.


And why wouldn't using "it" solve all this problem?

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-23, 02:17 AM
And why wouldn't using "it" solve all this problem?

M'glad you asked!

"It" has the traditional connotation in English of something that is inanimate; a thing. Referring to people as "its" is doubly dehumanizing, particularly for individuals who prefer not to self-identify as a given gender. This is another end to which a neutered language can be applied.

The Gryphon
2008-07-23, 02:25 AM
I once said to a friend of mine :
I will say "actress" after you say "doctress". In public.

Do you also called your female friends "mister"? :smalltongue:

Khanderas
2008-07-23, 02:36 AM
Probably. I know German is a good language to look at for seperation of masculine, feminine, and neutral termed words. :P
Except for "das mädchen" perhaps (pardon the spelling).
Or das -> very roughly "it" pronoun
mädchen -> girl.

So "girl" in german do not have a feminine theme :)
Havn't been to german classes in many years but this kinda stuck.

Kurald Galain
2008-07-23, 04:03 AM
Except for "das mädchen" perhaps (pardon the spelling).
Or das -> very roughly "it" pronoun
mädchen -> girl.

So "girl" in german do not have a feminine theme :)

No, that's because it's a diminutive word. In German, you can make pretty much any word dimunitive by adding "chen", and all diminutive words are neutral. The word "mädel" is, of course, feminine.

DigoDragon
2008-07-23, 07:20 AM
I speak a decent amount of Spanish and that language is full of male/female pronouns and even most general nouns are gendered. If I'm not mistaken, doors are female. :smalltongue: Just throwing that out because I find it amusing.

Anyway, I have nothing against making English gender neutral. I figure if languages don't change to keep up with society they end up becoming dead languages. So my only concern is breaking out of the habit I've been in for 28 years. :smallsmile:

Pronounceable
2008-07-23, 07:36 AM
"It" has the traditional connotation in English of something that is inanimate; a thing.

Gendered pronouns themselves are traditional. I don't see why distinction between animate and inanimate can't be removed to allow language neutering. Wouldn't be much different than using they instead of he/she and removes plurality issue.


I speak a decent amount of Spanish and that language is full of male/female pronouns and even most general nouns are gendered. If I'm not mistaken, doors are female. Just throwing that out because I find it amusing.

I was told it's the same in Arabic. Chair is male and table is female. Try to guess the reason... (hint: I can easily understand door being female using that logic)

AdversusVeritas
2008-07-23, 08:24 AM
They are trying to get away from the feminine endings for the same reason they are trying to get away from always using "he" when the gender of the person is unknown: because they are tired of men being considered normative.

I can kind of sympathize. Imagine if we added a suffix to "doctor" if the doctor were black or jewish.

Totally Guy
2008-07-23, 09:01 AM
Worse than the difference in gendered pronouns is the vastly greater number of ways there are to insult women with gender specific insults. I'd say that's the bigger problem.

Also working too hard for a solution of a problem of this kind will end up creating a backlash. For example if the government were to ban the word actress under sexual discrimination at work there would be those that would be upset that some blasted silly women have managed to tell the world they way they've been talking is wrong and villainous. This would be a reaction whether is was a small subset of women pushing for it or the government just got bored and wanted to be seen as helping the issue.

Another_Poet
2008-07-23, 09:47 AM
Also working too hard for a solution of a problem of this kind will end up creating a backlash. For example if the government were to ban the word actress under sexual discrimination at work...

Luckily, no feminists are asking for that (and most feminists don't support censorship under any circumstances).

There are a lot of ways to effect change without banning something. For instance, education. This thread has over 70 posts so far - most of them (predictably) just boil down to "I'll always use goddess!" or "I'm already using gender-neutral language, awesome!" But maybe a few people who have seen this thread used to think -ess was perfectly acceptable and now realise that others can find it offensive. Maybe some of those people will start speaking or writing differently, even pass the idea on to others. No legislation was passed, nobody was fired or sued or shot, but slowly change happens just because most people don't like to intentionally hurt other peoples' feelings.

Some folks won't change and that's fine. They sound pretty cool now, ranting about how beautiful -ess words are and how no one can force them to change. Someday they'll just end up like my grandma, who still calls African Americans (and most other non-whites) "colored people". Out loud. In the grocery store. With African Americans right next to her.

Maybe in the 50's she sounded very cool ranting about how she can use whatever language she wants. Now it's just pathetic, as her kids and grandkids turn bright red and try to get her to shut up.

Life changes, language changes, society changes. You can react to it any way you want, but you probably can't stop it.

ap

Jayabalard
2008-07-23, 10:09 AM
But maybe a few people who have seen this thread used to think -ess was perfectly acceptable and now realise that others can find it offensive. Personally, I hope that noone changes his language just because someone else thinks that what he is saying is double-plus ungood.

Vexxation
2008-07-23, 10:16 AM
Life changes, language changes, society changes. You can react to it any way you want, but you probably can't stop it.


Society needs to stop catering to those who become offended over such simple things as "actress." "Goddess." "Stewardess."

It doesn't degrade you to be identified by your gender.
It only seems to degrade because of the stupid "everything has to be politically correct, wouldn't want anything to sound vaguely degrading to anyone ever because people can't handle it and I know because I was picked on when I was little" sentiment that is floating around.

I, for one, have never seen anyone get worked up over being referred to with an "-ess." Except when it was a very feminine-looking man. And that wasn't entirely my fault.

If being referred to as a "waitress" or "stewardess" or "actress" or "goddess" is the worst problem you face on a daily basis, you have it easy.

elliott20
2008-07-23, 10:22 AM
You generally see gender neutral language in linguist feminists (people who believe words have an intrinsic power even in its utterance) and radical feminism (mostly second wave fringe). Generally, either of these are not as common as other schools of thought.

My wife is a anthropologist and linguist who is of the linguist feminist stock, and to her the assumption that a particular profession requires a different word for it's gender identification means there is an implication that said profession would be vastly different if done by the opposite sex.

me? I don't entirely agree with her. but I can see where she comes from.

The Vorpal Tribble
2008-07-23, 10:51 AM
Also, it may be a move toward a more feminist perspective. Not all women feel this way, but many people feel that having separate gender words for a given job ("actor" and "actress", "sorceror" and "sorceress", "god" and "goddess") undermines equal rights. It implies that, even though both do the same job, they are somehow different - and thus one is potentially "better" than the other.

Obviously, lots of people like the -ess words because it's what they're used to or because it gives a certain feel to something, but any publication that's making an effort to be inclusive and egalitarian tends to do away with them. And female gamers are a growing demographic...
Y'know, I'm always good for a debate, giving my point of view succinctly, persuasively, and other big wordsly... but in this case it's not worth the effort. Call me close-minded, call me judgmental, even call me Shirley, but women like that are annoying and dumb.

*goes to finish statting up his homebrew angel... err, I mean, anthropomorphic personification of a judea/christian ideal*

Totally Guy
2008-07-23, 12:00 PM
Luckily, no feminists are asking for that (and most feminists don't support censorship under any circumstances).



Yes, that's right. But that doesn't necessarily mean that nobody outside that movement will assume that is what the movement wants and attempts to enforce it. This sort of thing is happening locally near me where a certain group is being "supported" by a higher autority without asking for that support. It goes a bit like the Malcolm in the Middle episode where Spengler treats Francis very well for a change but this earns him contempt from his school chums, killing with kindness.

That grandma line is cringeworthy...
Yet the term African Englishman/woman never caught on... plus it's got implied gender. So it's just as cringeworthy.:smallredface:

Fenix_of_Doom
2008-07-23, 12:45 PM
That grandma line is cringeworthy...
Yet the term African Englishman/woman never caught on... plus it's got implied gender. So it's just as cringeworthy.:smallredface:

That and even in America calling random black people "African Americans" is still stupid and presumptuous because you
a) presume those people are from America
b) presume they somehow have bonds with Africa



There are a lot of ways to effect change without banning something. For instance, education. This thread has over 70 posts so far - most of them (predictably) just boil down to "I'll always use goddess!" or "I'm already using gender-neutral language, awesome!" But maybe a few people who have seen this thread used to think -ess was perfectly acceptable and now realise that others can find it offensive. Maybe some of those people will start speaking or writing differently, even pass the idea on to others. No legislation was passed, nobody was fired or sued or shot, but slowly change happens just because most people don't like to intentionally hurt other peoples' feelings.

As pointed out earlier and some people can find it offensive that you don't use the female form of words, I'll even up the ante for you, I don't believe the world will be a better place if we remove female forms of words, I'm completely for gender neutral pronouns though.

Roderick_BR
2008-07-23, 01:47 PM
Here in the States, we have a running joke where we bash the French. Someone suggested that since we don't like the French (I think this had to do with political issues regarding Iraq), that we rename everything that is "French" to "Freedom". So, French fries became "Freedom Fries". And now, the joke has long outlived whatever political issues spawned it. (The name "Freedom Fries" didn't stick).

This is similar to what happened in the United States during World War I, in which, we renamed sauerkraut to "Liberty Cabbage". It didn't stick either.

Edit: It was about Iraq, and a congressman suggested it. See Wikipedia article here (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freedom_Fries).
And what about French Kiss?:smallamused: Ok, that one is old too.

AslanCross
2008-07-23, 04:15 PM
Executrix remains my favorite feminine word. Doesn't it sound sinisterly alluring? :smallbiggrin:

This word will definitely appear in one of my campaigns in the future. You win an internet.

Oracle_Hunter
2008-07-23, 10:06 PM
This word will definitely appear in one of my campaigns in the future. You win an internet.

Hooray!

And now, apropos our current discussion:

Lota is too large for your puny pronouns! (http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20080724.html)

That is all :smallbiggrin:

Grey Watcher
2008-07-23, 10:30 PM
Sigh...am I the only person who likes how feminine nouns sounds? Actress, aviatrix, goddess...perfectly useful, pleasant-sounding words, gone for no legitimate reason.

[/grammar is serious business]

Part of the problem is that certain ones have taken on alternate meanings.

The Stewardess of Gondor sounds like something entirely different than the Steward of Gondor.

And lets not even go near dominator vs. dominatrix.

But you're right, even these connotations come about for no real reason.

Kurald Galain
2008-07-24, 04:23 AM
[QUOTE=Another_Poet;4580371]Luckily, no feminists are asking for that (and most feminists don't support censorship under any circumstances)./QUOTE]

That's all well and good, but I recall a substantial amount of media backlash a few months ago against a politician who used the word "*****rdly"; so yeah, language watching does seem to generate overkill responses.

(edit) wow, the forum filter doesn't even get that. Okay, there's an English word that sounds like a racial slur but means something like "penny pinching".

kamikasei
2008-07-24, 06:33 AM
Kurald: do you mean *****rdly? (Mostly I'm curious whether the filter will catch this, or if you spelt it wrong.)

The filter caught it. That's bizarre, I've never even seen the actual slur spelt like that.

nagora
2008-07-24, 07:40 AM
Part of the problem is that certain ones have taken on alternate meanings.

The Stewardess of Gondor sounds like something entirely different than the Steward of Gondor.
My favorite is "priestess". Ever since the CoE started discussing allowing priestesses, they have studiously avoided the word and instead debate the issue of "women priests", which is a lovely illustration of how words that are blandly descriptive on the surface can betray a very deep fear in a small sub-section of society. To me, "women priests" is as comical an example of newspeak as "women fathers" or "men mothers" would be.

shadow_archmagi
2008-07-24, 08:04 AM
Kurald: do you mean *****rdly? (Mostly I'm curious whether the filter will catch this, or if you spelt it wrong.)

The filter caught it. That's bizarre, I've never even seen the actual slur spelt like that.


I don't get it... what is the word?

Conners
2008-07-24, 08:10 AM
I have one important point:

It doesn't matter garbage whether you use: A) Master and mistress', 'actor and actress', etcetera. or B) Actor, master, sorcerer. Because, apparently, one is offensive to some groups and the other is offensive to other groups. The majority, however, could hardly care.

Type A, notably, conveys more information about the person as to their gender (it seems somewhat random to say, "and she's a girl" and perhaps even sexist if you say it wrong), and saves confusion when conversing with the people who use the former speech--whom I suppose would be the majority (Person A: "And here's the actor: Miss Jones" Person B: "Hey, wait! You said the leading actor is a guy!... So I'm confused as to what you were saying about the 'revolutionary love-interests' you described in the film you're making...").

Leadfeathermcc
2008-07-24, 08:17 AM
This thread is double plus good (http://www.sysdesign.ca/archive/berkes_1984_language.html)!

nagora
2008-07-24, 09:13 AM
I don't get it... what is the word?

N I G G A R D L Y, meaning to be tight with money, from a very very old Scandinavian word for "narrow".

Dervag
2008-07-24, 09:45 AM
Some folks won't change and that's fine. They sound pretty cool now, ranting about how beautiful -ess words are and how no one can force them to change. Someday they'll just end up like my grandma, who still calls African Americans (and most other non-whites) "colored people". Out loud. In the grocery store. With African Americans right next to her.

Maybe in the 50's she sounded very cool ranting about how she can use whatever language she wants. Now it's just pathetic, as her kids and grandkids turn bright red and try to get her to shut up.

Life changes, language changes, society changes. You can react to it any way you want, but you probably can't stop it.

apAlternatively, the whole debate will disappear, and the people who tried to get rid of -ess endings will look like the people who wanted to "rationalize" English spelling in ways like this (http://static.wikipedia.org/new/wikipedia/en/articles/c/u/t/Cut_Spelling_d573.html). Note that spelling rationalization isn't dead as a movement, but it's pretty clear that the efforts of the rationalists will not succeed. If English spelling changes, it won't be because someone sat down and created a new orthography for the English language out of whole cloth.

I predict that -ess endings will end up staying around until the English language has changed in enough other ways as to be almost unrecognizable (like Middle English is to us today). I also question the claim that -ess endings are inherently gender-biased. They recognize gender, but recognition is not automatically bias. Whatever languages we end up with will definitely recognize gender, because gender is really important to a lot of people. I'm not sure I'd want to live in any society that was willing to try to devalue gender by sterilizing it from the language. I worry that we'd lose something important in the process: that cheerful little inner voice saying "vive le petit difference!"

Ascension
2008-07-24, 09:58 AM
And the rest of society is larger than grammar. How much tells boys that they are bad for being boys? How about a school system that is increasingly geared to girl's methods of learning, rather than boys? How many commercials show the man as an idiot, saved by his wise wife?

Sitcoms and movies too. In comedy, at least, it's becoming quite rare to find a competent man. And I dare you to find me a modern American cartoon that doesn't feature an idiot hero who has a relatively competent friend-who-is-a-girl. Even when the girl's the protagonist she remains competent, and the burden of idiocy is passed on to her closest male friend.

It's still a tricky thing, though. You could argue that the male idiot, female genius pattern has arisen specifically to placate women... "Sure, almost every show that isn't specifically targeted at women stars a guy as its protagonist... but at least they're all idiots and they depend on women to get anything done! That makes it better, right?"

For the most part, though, I think feminists who spend their time arguing about language are largely missing the point. The primary issue that must be addressed in today's society is the ongoing difference in wages between men and women in many fields. Until women everywhere in the US, in any line of work are consistently paid the same amount as the men performing the same jobs, I don't see why we should worry about an issue such as grammar which, though potentially serious, doesn't affect the working woman nearly as much as a lower paycheck does.

nagora
2008-07-24, 10:00 AM
With African Americans right next to her.
I have to say that "African American" for "black" is an infuriating term given that the VAST majority of the people in question are many generations now from Africa and most have never even visited there.

I'm white as snow and I'm descended from Africans, as is everyone else on the planet. Now, what possbile dividing line are you drawing between "African Americans" and myself? Could it possibly be the colour of our skin?

So, which is more racist: to distinguish between colours with code phrases and hidden meanings, or to to allow people to say frankly "I was talking to the black guy over there" to pick out one person in a group, just as they would be able to say "the bald guy"?

It's just skin colour, FFS! It's not important and using stupid (and inaccurate) phrases like "African American" keeps it important and increases racism, albeit in a more insidious form.

Kurald Galain
2008-07-24, 10:03 AM
For the most part, though, I think feminists who spend their time arguing about language are largely missing the point. The primary issue that must be addressed in today's society is the ongoing difference in wages between men and women in many fields.

I once read a conspiracy theory about how the whole grammar issue was invented by the MCPs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Male_chauvinist_pig), specifically to divert feminist activity away from the actual issues (i.e. paychecks)...

Ascension
2008-07-24, 10:05 AM
So, which is more racist: to distinguish between colours with code phrases and hidden meanings, or to to allow people to say frankly "I was talking to the black guy over there" to pick out one person in a group, just as they would be able to say "the bald guy"?

It's just skin colour, FFS! It's not important and using stupid (and inaccurate) phrases like "African American" keeps it important and increases racism, albeit in a more insidious form.

'course, by that logic, shouldn't we say brown instead of black? And, like, tan or beige or off-white or something instead of white. If it's merely a description of skin color, brown and beige would be more technically accurate and would avoid dragging race into any of the archetypal white-good, black-evil junk. We might eventually be able to speak of black and white without bringing up any thoughts of race at all.

nagora
2008-07-24, 10:14 AM
We might eventually be able to speak of black and white without bringing up any thoughts of race at all.

Thing is, no one who's causing any trouble actually cares about that: even the most racist people I've ever met - and I've known some whoppers - ever considered the idea of, say, a "blackboard" instead of a "chalkboard" as being a significent issue, or thought that it was a disgrace that the universal symbol of surrender is a white flag. They just don't think that way (or at all, really) when they're talking about beating someone up for being different from them.

Language is a very feeble place to pick a battleground in race or sexual relations - the battles you lose are still a setback but the ones you win are trivial. Raising your kids to be decent people is worth all the re-written dictionaries in the world.

Also, as someone from Northern Ireland, I can assure you that people WILL always find a way to discriminate against the "others", even if they are the same colour and sex.

Swooper
2008-07-24, 10:55 AM
As far as I know, it's only in the USA that black people have to be identified as something other than locals. In the UK (where I have lived), black people are called 'Brits'. Just like everyone else. In the USA, they have to be called 'African Americans' or else someone will be offended.

Personally, I'm sick and tired of the political correctness everyone seems to expect from everyone else these days. :smallannoyed: That includes refusing to use he as gender neutral (which it is as far as I'm concerned), calling goddesses gods, and the feminists who want feminine versions of traditionally masculine profession-names (this isn't a specifically English language problem - it's happening in Iceland, too, and in both directions: The traditional word for 'stewardess' (flugfreyja) has been officially changed for male flight attendants (flugþjónn)) and the reverse, removing feminine-specific profession names.

Tengu_temp
2008-07-24, 11:50 AM
Society needs to stop catering to those who become offended over such simple things as "actress." "Goddess." "Stewardess."

It doesn't degrade you to be identified by your gender.
It only seems to degrade because of the stupid "everything has to be politically correct, wouldn't want anything to sound vaguely degrading to anyone ever because people can't handle it and I know because I was picked on when I was little" sentiment that is floating around.

I, for one, have never seen anyone get worked up over being referred to with an "-ess." Except when it was a very feminine-looking man. And that wasn't entirely my fault.

If being referred to as a "waitress" or "stewardess" or "actress" or "goddess" is the worst problem you face on a daily basis, you have it easy.

Agreed. A typical example of Political Correctness Gone Mad (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PoliticalCorrectnessGoneMad). Is saying "that woman" instead of "that person" discrimination, too?

Another_Poet
2008-07-24, 12:54 PM
(edit) wow, the forum filter doesn't even get that. Okay, there's an English word that sounds like a racial slur but means something like "penny pinching".

Right, but of course the word you're refering to (rhymes with piggardly if anyone doesn't know which one we're talking for) comes from the same root word as the n-word racial slur. Both come from the Latin word for "black" and both rely on the idea that black = bad.

If "n-----dly" was a favourite word of yours (and for some reason you can't use miserly, avaricious, greedy or stingy) then take it up with the racists who ruined all words that stem from Latin "*****".

A much more important point:

No matter what words people prefer to use to describe themselves, I try to honour that preference.

I remember when I was 14 and spoke to a woman who corrected me for using the word "retarded" for someone with a mental disability. I hashed out quite an argument, explaining how I was using the word in its historically correct sense and how I didn't mean it in an offensive way. Then she started crying.

I've rarely felt so bad in my life. Technically I was correct about the word's historical meaning and derivation, but human dignity should come first. She felt belittled and wounded because a fellow human being insisted on calling her something she didn't want to be called. Rightly so.

I say put respect above all the other considerations when choosing your words. If one woman wants to be called an "actress" and another wants to be called an "actor" then just call each one what they want. Don't worry about which one came into use when, or which one is more popular, or whether one of them has a political agenda. Just treat people the way they want to be treated. Honour their preferred title or name for themselves.

Just to be nice.

That's my advice, anyway.

ap

Meltemi
2008-07-24, 01:03 PM
I actually get the feeling that the battle over politically correct language is a bit of a consequence of theories like Sapir-Whorf, which postulates that language affects thought. It's a bit like the Newspeak already alluded to, where trivializing revolutionary language ends up trivializing revolution itself in the context of the novel. It's not entirely silly, since the weak variant of Sapir-Whorf is probably at least somewhat accurate (though degree is up for debate, and strong Sapir-Whorf like in 1984 is quite silly), but it is odd in that language seems to be more descriptive rather than proscriptive - words are created to describe new forms of thought and deed, rather than new forms of thought and deed becoming possible as a result of new words. I wouldn't call it PCGM, nor would I completely trivialize the effects of teaching politically correct language, but I do agree that there are more important matters of immediate consequence at hand, in both directions.

Besides, that synonym for miserly being caught by the forum filters isn't really a problem of racism at all, nor would I say it was ruined by racists (though that portion that gets blocked is an unfortunately common misspelling of the racist term). Really, it's quite different (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S****horpe_Problem) and perfectly fine to use. As for the word itself, I even find black people using a little odd. Word reclamation is all and fine, but the double-standard is still a little annoying. ;)

EDIT: Heh, the filter even killed the link, too. Since TV Tropes is popular, here (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThisTropeIsBleep), halfway down, named after a city ending in -thorpe. It also includes a link to the proper article. ^_^

kamikasei
2008-07-24, 02:07 PM
(though that portion that gets blocked is an unfortunately common misspelling of the racist term).

Seriously, I've never seen that spelling and all I can think looking at it is LOLracism.

MOAR HATN PLZ


EDIT: Heh, the filter even killed the link, too. Since TV Tropes is popular, here (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ThisTropeIsBleep), halfway down, named after a city ending in -thorpe. It also includes a link to the proper article. ^_^

Try tinyURL, maybe?


N I G G A R D L Y, meaning to be tight with money, from a very very old Scandinavian word for "narrow".

Incidentally, you can get words past the filter quite easily with some creative tag use, and if the use of the word is legitimate it's okay with the mods (last I checked). It makes discussions on the comics forum more straightforward when you can just talk about **** Grayson.

Iruka
2008-07-24, 02:51 PM
No, that's because it's a diminutive word. In German, you can make pretty much any word dimunitive by adding "chen", and all diminutive words are neutral. The word "mädel" is, of course, feminine.
As far as I know is "Mädel", just like "Mädle" or "Madel", still neutral because it's just a variation of "Mädchen". The non-diminiutive form "Maid" is rarely used in every day conversation.

I use the "-ess"-words(if I know them) because I like the way they sound and look. It never occured to me this could offend anyone...

Covered In Bees
2008-07-24, 03:00 PM
Wow, guys. Just... just wow. You're so oppressed. Who knew it was so hard to be a white male in our society? I mean, sure, women are constantly bombarded with the message that their primary purpose, over and above everything else, is to look good (for men), but some sitcoms have stupid dads! That is totally the same thing, and I feel just as much pressure to... be a stupid dad, I guess...?

(A woman I know pointed out, "when you pick up a women's magazine, like Women's Day or Family Circle, do you know what you see?
Diet plans and cake recipes."
That pretty much sums it up.)


And not saying things that irritate people? Man, that's for chumps! Real life should be just like the internet!

Fenix_of_Doom
2008-07-24, 03:01 PM
snip
Well since you wrote it in big blue letters I guess that makes you right.



As far as I know is "Mädel", just like "Mädle" or "Madel", still neutral because it's just a variation of "Mädchen". The non-diminiutive form "Maid" is rarely used in every day conversation.

That's true, people should read my posts more often.

Ascension
2008-07-24, 03:05 PM
Wow, guys. Just... just wow. You're so oppressed. Who knew it was so hard to be a white male in our society? I mean, sure, women are constantly bombarded with the message that their primary purpose, over and above everything else, is to look good (for men), but some sitcoms have stupid dads! That is totally the same thing, and I feel just as much pressure to... be a stupid dad, I guess...?

You know, I did go on to say that despite the growing trend of portraying men as idiots in entertainment, discrimination against women is still a serious issue. Just in case you didn't bother to read the rest of the post before going into sarcasm mode.

I still say, though, that differences in pay and promotions should be the first thing we address. Cultural portrayals of women can be corrected later.

Hawriel
2008-07-24, 03:12 PM
Well to the OP. Yes the use of god implase of goddess when refering to a female deity is PC at work. Much like the befor mentioned actor/actress. If you watch TV, particularly interviews of actors, actresses and directors. You will see they all use actor when discribing their jobs. Weather they are male or female. The only exeption are the older actors.

I do find a little irony in the use of god over goddess in D&D. Many women, weather feminests, hard headed feminests or what have you, use goddess as a form of impowerment. It's a slap in the face of men and the masculen ideal of god. Again there is an irony in that some women are using this as a way to justify supperiority over men. Or maybe thats just plane hypocricy.

As for words that have other sinister meanings, Or are comepletly taken the wrong way do to the listeners ignorince. We need to teach more english in schools. It's not about spelling correctly but teaching an understanding in the use of words, there meaning, and motive behind there use. Of corse the big chip on the shoulder that I see in alot of americans kinda proves my point. As other posters used the word meaning stingy have said. Peaple are way to quick to fly off the handle in being offended by the most honest use of works. Such as calling some one eloquent, or saying you peaple to refer to a group of peaple. Most peaple understand the difference between a person trying to express their thoughts versus a person who is insulting you. Unfortunately it seems that just isn't true any more.

Ive ran into afew scrubbed or banned words on the internet that completely supprised me. Mostly because they where normal words that had its roots in perfectly ecceptable consepts or objects. The example that first comes to mind is when I tried to use the name of a D&D character I had on afew MMOs. The name was Jack Spade. Now I know Jack is a widly used name. It's common and has an action hero qualety to it. So that would almost alwasy be taken. What struck me was when I tried to use the name on SWG. The game came out and said I was using a banned word. I had no idea why that name was banned. It took me almost a month of asking friends and coworkers to figure it out. Spade apparently is also used as a recial deragetory for black peaple. Now this is obviosly not what the word truely means. A spade is a tool for digging. A shovel. thats the noun. Verb to dig. A stylized spear head on a playing card. In old english the blade of a sword. In greek "spatha" meaning blade, in Italian "espada" broadsword. It's also two styles of beard. Out of the 8-12 definitions or translations of spade, only one was an offensive use for black. That was the most resent added meaning. I guess I should be gratful I didnt try to name my character Elan the Eloquent.

Shatteredtower
2008-07-24, 03:16 PM
Take a pantheon of twenty deities. Assign half of them no gender traits whatsoever, and divide the other half evenly between males and females. If you referred to them collectively as the gods and goddesses, what term would you use to refer only to the ungendered ones? When referring to the females and nongendered as a group, would you call them the goddesses or the gods and goddesses?

Arrangements like that one are adequate reason for me to just refer to the entire lots as gods, thank you.


Type A, notably, conveys more information about the person as to their gender--Why is that more relevant to the discussion of occupation than, say, the person's ethnic origins, religion, or hair colour? Why would you need to know?


(Person A: "And here's the actor: Miss Jones" Person B: "Hey, wait! You said the leading actor is a guy!... So I'm confused as to what you were saying about the 'revolutionary love-interests' you described in the film you're making...").I don't see where the confusion arises between the statements you just made. Try the same conversation with the word 'performer' replacing 'actor'. There are no politically correct connotations to this synonym, nor a feminine form.

Ditto for entertainer, composer, dancer, writer, or singer. Oh, sure, there's songstress, but that sees as much use as songster. No one ever saw the need to distinguish whether a smith was male or female, or a farmer, mercer, merchant, or mercenary. Librarian. Teacher. We don't use school master or mistress anymore, in part because while the feminine of master is mistress, the masculine of mistress is the gender neutral paramour or lover. (And Judit and Szuza Polgar are International Grandmasters of Chess, thank you very much.) Nurse is a particularly good one as well, when you think about its other meanings in verb form.

"Actress" doesn't add anything to the language. It's just traditional with no constructive purpose. It leads to silliness such as gender-based categories to exist in award ceremonies for the performing arts. Did either Helen Mirren or Forest Whitaker really need to be protected from the possibility of having to compete against each other for an Oscar in 2006?


Whatever languages we end up with will definitely recognize gender, because gender is really important to a lot of people.Why?

I tend to find the answers that question receives disturbing, assuming I can get people to answer it with anything more than a dumbfounded, "Isn't it obvious?" gesture.


I'm not sure I'd want to live in any society that was willing to try to devalue gender by sterilizing it from the language.The problem with assigning value to anything is how often that leads to "A is good, B sucks," evaluation for what should simply be an equation of distinction, not value. Coke or Pepsi, for example, are both just colas. Myspace or Facebook. (http://www.danah.org/papers/essays/ClassDivisions.html) Professional or amateur. 4th Ed or 3.5 or anything earlier.

When should gender require a change in behaviour? In D&D since 2nd Ed, the answer has been assumed to be, "Never." (I've heard a few people argue that the iconic characters suggest otherwise, but that argument can get really convoluted.)


I worry that we'd lose something important in the process: that cheerful little inner voice saying "vive le petit difference!"To some, that voice isn't so cheerful and the difference not so small.


And I dare you to find me a modern American cartoon that doesn't feature an idiot hero who has a relatively competent friend-who-is-a-girl. Even when the girl's the protagonist she remains competent, and the burden of idiocy is passed on to her closest male friend.Any project based on a DC license. Batman and Superman have both known their share of competent females, and neither has been portrayed as an idiot hero. The closest they got was the Flash, and he proved that wrong more than a few times. The Teen Titans don't fit the bill either.

Over on the Disney side, consider the fact that Ron Stoppable carried the day more often that Kim Possible. Your point still carries, admittedly, but a lot of it has more to do with the convention of forcing characters to adhere to established traits at all times. The aurocephalous female is no longer required to be a bubble-head, but if it's established that she's brilliant, then she never has dumb moments (barring magical reversal episodes).


For the most part, though, I think feminists who spend their time arguing about language are largely missing the point. The primary issue that must be addressed in today's society is the ongoing difference in wages between men and women in many fields. Until women everywhere in the US, in any line of work are consistently paid the same amount as the men performing the same jobs, I don't see why we should worry about an issue such as grammar which, though potentially serious, doesn't affect the working woman nearly as much as a lower paycheck does.Are they really separate issues, though, or part of the same gestalt? If language implies a default male position, culture is more likely to follow language.

Covered In Bees
2008-07-24, 03:20 PM
Any project based on a DC license. Batman and Superman have both known their share of competent females, and neither has been portrayed as an idiot hero. The closest they got was the Flash, and he proved that wrong more than a few times. The Teen Titans don't fit the bill either.

This is pretty ironic, given the staggeringly poor treatment of female characters by comics (DC and Marvel both) in general. Women in Refrigerators, anyone?

Grey Watcher
2008-07-24, 03:25 PM
Red Watcher: Could we please pull back from the tangent of linguistics, gender-identity, and social justice? The discussions getting heated, and I think everyone would benefit from taking a few steps back from the whole affair. I'm leaving the thread open for now, but I'll be keeping a close eye on it from here on out.

AdversusVeritas
2008-07-24, 03:35 PM
Society needs to stop catering to those who become offended over such simple things as "actress." "Goddess." "Stewardess."

It doesn't degrade you to be identified by your gender.The problem isn't that they are being identified by their gender, it is that they are while men are not. If a man acts, he is an actor, a male deity is a god, etc. But when a woman acts, a suffix is attached. It isn't like in other languages, where male and female terms both have their own suffixes. And it isn't just that the woman is being identified by her gender, the job is now identified by her gender. If two people are doing the same job, why should it have a qualifier when a woman is doing it? I'm not sure whether it is going too far to make these demands or not, but I can easily see where they are coming from.


If being referred to as a "waitress" or "stewardess" or "actress" or "goddess" is the worst problem you face on a daily basis, you have it easy.So they have no right to complain because there are worse problems? If that is the case, then you have no right to complain about political correctness.

Jayabalard
2008-07-24, 03:59 PM
The problem isn't that they are being identified by their gender, it is that they are while men are not. If a man acts, he is an actor, a male deity is a god, etc. That's kind of a bad example. When a man acts, you add a male suffix and he is referred to as an actor. Similar for waiter, sorceror, executor, and so on.


"god" is easier to use than "deity" maybe. That said I can live with it: they aren't really beings with a gender at all. I'd have to disagree; in many cases, gods or goddesses have a very specific gender identity.

elliott20
2008-07-24, 04:01 PM
I'd have to disagree; in many cases, gods or goddesses have a very specific gender identity.
and when one is absent, it is automatically assumed male.

hamishspence
2008-07-24, 04:06 PM
Point is, maybe they don't. Maybe they are just portrayed as having that gender identity by humans. If the platinum dragon is not really a dragon (or dwarf with silver beard, or elf) its not that big a stretch to say its not REALLY male either.

Corellon was famously androgynous: "his" gold-elven male form is the one "he" chooses to show, but Deities and Demigods suggests Corellon is actually in reality, both.

Totally Guy
2008-07-24, 04:16 PM
I saw an advert recently for a ladies razor blade called venus and the tag line was "reveal the goddess in you". Now I'm waiting for a mens razor to come out called ... Odin... Thor... Zues... ok I can't think of a clean shaven god... But I'm waiting for the tag line "Feel like a God!"

Do you know what I bought the other week? Three sanitary bins. Without that we'd be failing our welfare duties at work. So used tampons can be disposed of responsibly. And you know what else I needed to buy? A certificate of responsible tampon disposal complete with waste code transfer notifications.

Not really a point in the argument at all but maybe the mental imagery of the menstrual cycle and maybe menopause will avert the menace that is many manoeuvering mensa members manning manly mannerisms maniplulating the manifested manakins manuscript :smalleek: Did I just go crazy and fall down?

AdversusVeritas
2008-07-24, 04:20 PM
That's kind of a bad example. When a man acts, you add a male suffix and he is referred to as an actor. Similar for waiter, sorceror, executor, and so on.Wow, I don't know what I was going through my mind there, you are right.

Dervag
2008-07-24, 04:23 PM
Take a pantheon of twenty deities. Assign half of them no gender traits whatsoever, and divide the other half evenly between males and females. If you referred to them collectively as the gods and goddesses, what term would you use to refer only to the ungendered ones? When referring to the females and nongendered as a group, would you call them the goddesses or the gods and goddesses? I stick with what I think of as 'standard' rules. I'd say that:

Collectively, they are "the gods." A plural group of mixed gender is given the '-s' or '-es' plural ending to denote plurality.

This rule continues to apply when we refer to a group of mixed female and neutral gender, such as the combination of Natasha the Goddess of Femme Fatales, and Chris the... err... Deity of Gender Ambiguity. Likewise if we talk about the combination of Natasha and Gronk the (male) God of Beards, or of Chris and Gronk. In all those cases, a mixed gender group is referred to as "gods."

A singular entity of male gender gets no ending. A singular entity of neutral gender (Chris the... err... Deity of Gender Ambiguity) also gets no ending. A singular entity of the female gender, or a group made up exclusively of the female gender, gets the '-ess' ending to denote that they are female.

The '-ess' ending is not a diminutive, as the '-ette' ending (derived from the French) is. I believe that the '-ess' ending is reserved exclusively for cases where no diminutive should be applied and the thing or group being referred to is definitely and entirely female.

If the diminutive is appropriate and the group is not entirely female, I would use the '-let' ending: the godlet(s). If the diminutive is appropriate and the group is entirely female, then... I don't know what to do, because "godette" is an abomination of a word.

However, I agree with you that if we look at a collection of male, female, and neuter deities, the group is collectively "the gods." Only if we refer to an entirely female subset is the group "the godesses."


Why is that more relevant to the discussion of occupation than, say, the person's ethnic origins, religion, or hair colour? Why would you need to know?Because you're trying to describe the person at the same time that you say what their occupation is? Gender can legitimately matter to people who are not biased against one gender or the other. Vive le petit difference, I say.


"Actress" doesn't add anything to the language. It's just traditional with no constructive purpose. It leads to silliness such as gender-based categories to exist in award ceremonies for the performing arts. Did either Helen Mirren or Forest Whitaker really need to be protected from the possibility of having to compete against each other for an Oscar in 2006?

Why?Well, if actors and actresses don't take on identical roles in films, then it might well be appropriate to reward them separately, just as we have separate awards for "best supporting actor" and "best leading actor." In the case of supporting/leading there is an inferior/superior relationship implied. But that doesn't have to be the case in my opinion. "Coequal" and "identical" are not the same thing, not when you're talking about groups that are consciously and deliberately different. A female performer will often consciously and happily do things differently from the way a male would do them, filling different roles in ways that require a different skill set. I think mixing the two is no more necessary than mixing the "best sound" and "best visual" categories.


To some, that voice isn't so cheerful and the difference not so small.OK, but to a lot the absence of that voice isn't a future they really want to face. I don't want to live in a world where gender unawareness is enforced on me at the linguistic level. If the language evolves so that gender awareness in language sounds foolish while gender awareness is preserved in the culture, fine. But I worry when people choose language as their first target in the campaign against gender bias. To me, that implies that they're working the Sapir-Whorf angle and trying to suppress the general concept of gender difference. Which I think can only end in the suppression of at least one important and really respectable way of being human.


Are they really separate issues, though, or part of the same gestalt? If language implies a default male position, culture is more likely to follow language.In the English case system, I think you could equally well argue that the language implies a default neuter position, with males getting lumped in with neuters. I'm not sure that's a position of implied privilege. You could construct a language in which the suffix equivalent to "-ess" had good implications, while males and inanimate objects didn't get one of their own.

Another_Poet
2008-07-24, 04:25 PM
[QUOTE=Fenix_of_Doom;4587443]Well since you wrote it in big blue letters I guess that makes you right.QUOTE]

Exactly. :smallbiggrin:

nagora
2008-07-24, 05:21 PM
No matter what words people prefer to use to describe themselves, I try to honour that preference.

I remember when I was 14 and spoke to a woman who corrected me for using the word "retarded" for someone with a mental disability. I hashed out quite an argument, explaining how I was using the word in its historically correct sense and how I didn't mean it in an offensive way. Then she started crying.
I understand that, but the problem with simply addressing the language issue is that the real issue is not then addressed.

For example: it used to be that the word "Spastic" simply meant a particular disability and there was a "Spastic Society" which collected money as a charity for the sufferers. In the UK "Spastic" became such a universal term of insult amongst schoolkids and adults alike that the Spastic Society changed its name to Scope via a large-scale publicity campaign. Within weeks, kids were heard calling each other "Scopers" or just plain "Scope".

Unless you change the attitude, changing the world is less than useless: it's a waste of effort that could be directed at education or something else that actually achieves something.

My own brother is mentally retarded to the point where he can not speak (other than about five words), dress himself, or lead an independant life of any sort. I see no value in pretending that his mental facilities have not been retarded by a brain injury he suffered as an infant.

Discarding these words is, in a way, admitting that there is actually something "dirty" or that there is some genuine reason to be ashamed about being handicapped or crippled - they say that the buffoon that uses them as insults is right and grants them power which must be taken away by excising the word and not the oaf that uses them. Sod them. Sod them all.

Worira
2008-07-24, 05:25 PM
tl;raThe message you entered is shut up stupid aghh

Covered In Bees
2008-07-24, 05:27 PM
In the English case system, I think you could equally well argue that the language implies a default neuter position, with males getting lumped in with neuters. I'm not sure that's a position of implied privilege. You could construct a language in which the suffix equivalent to "-ess" had good implications, while males and inanimate objects didn't get one of their own.

You could argue it, but it'd be ridiculous. So unless you want to seriously try and lay out the case that "male" isn't a default assumption in our language and culture, don't bring it up.

Kiara LeSabre
2008-07-24, 05:50 PM
Skipping to the end just to say ...

I don't really care whether they're called "gods" or "goddesses," "actors" or "actresses," and the like, and to be perfectly honest, personally, I don't find either form threatening. I don't need Newspeak to protect me from the terrors of language; neither is sexism going to go away or somehow get even worse just because someone says "goddess."

Really.

Helgraf
2008-07-25, 12:02 AM
Skipping to the end just to say ...

I don't really care whether they're called "gods" or "goddesses," "actors" or "actresses," and the like, and to be perfectly honest, personally, I don't find either form threatening. I don't need Newspeak to protect me from the terrors of language; neither is sexism going to go away or somehow get even worse just because someone says "goddess."

Really.

:sniffs:

Ye gads. The elusive common sense. You've captured and bottled it! Do you have any idea what that's worth?!?!

Dervag
2008-07-25, 01:56 AM
You could argue it, but it'd be ridiculous. So unless you want to seriously try and lay out the case that "male" isn't a default assumption in our language and culture, don't bring it up.What I'm getting at is that the presumption that neuter objects are male isn't obviously intrinsic to the way English works grammatically. Other languages with the same grammar could work differently.

Is your objection is to the presumption that inanimate objects are gendered at all, or to the presumption that they are gendered one way in particular?


Skipping to the end just to say ...

I don't really care whether they're called "gods" or "goddesses," "actors" or "actresses," and the like, and to be perfectly honest, personally, I don't find either form threatening. I don't need Newspeak to protect me from the terrors of language; neither is sexism going to go away or somehow get even worse just because someone says "goddess."

Really.Hurray! Plus, what nagora said.

As nagora said, you can't reform the way people think by reforming the language. You have to attack it from the other way around. Eventually, the language may change after you change the attitudes. For example, it is verboten in the US to call a Bantu-descended person "colored" or a paraplegic a "cripple." But you can't eliminate the existence of the slur before you change people's minds about whether it should be a slur.

Look at terms for homosexual. "Gay" wasn't universally accepted as a synonym for "homosexual" until the mid-20th century. But as soon as it was accepted, it immediately became an insult just like all the other colloquial terms for homosexual that existed before it, such as "queer." Some of those terms have been co-opted by the homosexual community as neutral descriptives in the past few decades, in the spirit of "Yankee Doodle." But the reality remains that schoolboys were just as likely to call each other "gay" in 1990 as they were to call each other "s" in 1930, and they meant exactly the same thing exactly the same way when they did it. The word changed, the underlying intent did not.

You can't get rid of the slur without getting rid of the desire to [i]make the slur. People will always find new words to express old insults if you force them to.

Kurald Galain
2008-07-25, 02:55 AM
As far as I know is "Mädel", just like "Mädle" or "Madel", still neutral because it's just a variation of "Mädchen".
Nope, that's backwards. Check your dictionary for details.


The non-diminiutive form "Maid" is rarely used in every day conversation.

Indeed it isn't, but that doesn't change the point that "omglol t3h German word for 'girl' is not feminien" is simply false.



I've rarely felt so bad in my life. Technically I was correct about the word's historical meaning and derivation, but human dignity should come first.
I have no idea why you're posting this in big blue letters (can I lend you some blink tags?) but how exactly does it fit "human dignity" to enter a bout of mudslinging at a somebody who uses a synonym of the word "avaricious"?

There is a huge difference between somebody offended by intentionally hurtful language, and somebody who's just looking for an excuse to be offended so he can write a sensation story in the newspaper. It strikes me as problematic that PC caters to the latter.

Kurald Galain
2008-07-25, 03:08 AM
Take a pantheon of twenty deities. Assign half of them no gender traits whatsoever, and divide the other half evenly between males and females. If you referred to them collectively as the gods and goddesses, what term would you use to refer only to the ungendered ones?

"Deities". Or, for that matter, "pantheon".

Such words exist for a reason, you know. Just like "people", "parents", "siblings" and so forth.



Why is that more relevant to the discussion of occupation than, say, the person's ethnic origins, religion, or hair colour? Why would you need to know?
Just check Wikipedia - there is a huge effort to categorize every single famous person ever by ethnic origins and religion (the attempts to cover them by hair color and astrological sign were shut down, and no, I'm not kidding about that). So there's a lot of people out there that think they need to know.


No one ever saw the need to distinguish whether a smith was male or female, or a farmer, mercer, merchant, or mercenary. Librarian. Teacher.
Incorrect. I can think of several langugaes where these are separate words. I wish you best of luck in merging the Oscars for Best Actor and Best Actress.



The problem with assigning value to anything is how often that leads to "A is good, B sucks," evaluation for what should simply be an equation of distinction, not value.
That, however, is human nature and has nothing to do with suffixes. As soon as you have two football teams, or two professions, or two cities one might come from, people will compare them. Only immature people will immediately reduce such a comparison to "A is good, B sucks".

elliott20
2008-07-25, 08:04 AM
Just check Wikipedia - there is a huge effort to categorize every single famous person ever by ethnic origins and religion (the attempts to cover them by hair color and astrological sign were shut down, and no, I'm not kidding about that). So there's a lot of people out there that think they need to know.

I think what he's getting at is not so much the fact that people care to know, but why they do. You said it yourself, differentiation should not equate stratification of social value. So really, why SHOULD there be the necessity to make that distinction?

Kurald Galain
2008-07-25, 08:31 AM
I think what he's getting at is not so much the fact that people care to know, but why they do. You said it yourself, differentiation should not equate stratification of social value. So really, why SHOULD there be the necessity to make that distinction?

Attempting to removing the words that make the distinction is pointless as long as phrases exist that can make the distinction - in other words, it is treating symptoms, not causes.

When I tell something about person A to person B, then assuming B is interested in the story he'll want to know more about person A, be it profession, gender, skin color or taste in music. In how many words exactly I can tell him that is pretty much irrelevant.

Blindly following rules like "don't use words like actress" is missing the underlying reason that people want gender-equality. Indeed, using rules without understanding why tends to lead people in the wrong direction, for instance allowing people to claim they're not racist/sexist/whateverist because of the language they use, when in fact their behavior states differently.

Case in point? "Sensitivity Awareness Training" or however it's called is intended to teach people not to be thingist. Turns out that in actuality, it teaches people to hide their thingism, in other words to let them get away with more. This says a remarkable lot about human nature and naivete.

Mark Hall
2008-07-25, 09:04 PM
No one ever saw the need to distinguish whether a smith was male or female, or a farmer, mercer, merchant, or mercenary. Librarian. Teacher.

Lehrer/Lehrerin. Soldat/Soldatin.

As I mentioned earlier, English lost a lot of its endings when it combined with Old Norse (in the late 9th century). That's neutered a lot of words that were quite clearly gendered, for ease of use.

Iruka
2008-07-26, 06:43 AM
Nope, that's backwards. Check your dictionary for details.
Ok, I checked. And it says "Mädchen" and "Mädel" are both diminiutive, neutral forms of "Maid" or "Magd". But they are not viewed as diminiutive forms anymore and so the german word for "girl" is indeed not feminine

Killersquid
2008-07-26, 06:56 AM
Language is serious business. People take it too far.

Fenix_of_Doom
2008-07-26, 07:12 AM
Nope, that's backwards. Check your dictionary for details.


Indeed it isn't, but that doesn't change the point that "omglol t3h German word for 'girl' is not feminien" is simply false.


I've also checked my dictionary only to find it's useless, instead of translating the word it immediately jumps to the diminutive forms, that being said it lists Mädel as the diminutive form.

Dja'il
2008-07-26, 05:19 PM
Even though Mädel and Mädchen (both neuter) are originally diminutives of Magd (which, btw, in contemporary German translates no longer as maid, but as maidservant), they have acquired a completely different meaning and are, as Iruka said, no longer seen as diminutive forms.

Back on track: I would be sad to see words like actress and goddess disappear for the sake of PC. As others have said before me, if someone perceives a difference in quality whether a "job-title+male ending" or "job-title+female ending" does a job (and far too many people do), then that won't end by eradicating the female endings. They would still be able to tell whether you're male or female from looking at you or, in many cases, from your name, and judge accordingly. It's all in the head :smallwink: