OT: Re: gender-neutral English usage
gora at sarai.net
Wed Jan 20 18:51:45 CET 2010
On Wed, 20 Jan 2010 14:30:13 +0100
Krister Svanlund <adsummodo at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 2:12 PM, arne anka
> <openmoko at ginguppin.de> wrote:
> > what exactly has one's value to do with the gender or the
> > pronoun you are using to refer to him or her?
> > your proposition is based on the assumption that one gender is
> > less valueable than the other, hence, using the male or female
> > pronoun would express a judgement.
> To me it seems obvious that ones own impression of something is
> heavily based on the language you use (see
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity and the
> Sapir-Whorf hypothesis).
> If you make a difference between two persons (by assigning them
> different genders) you will also put values on the difference
> even if it isn't your intention.
This is getting way off-topic, but love the discussion. I will make
o Arne, I do agree with the point that you are making, but English
(and other languages) uses the male pronoun by default, and I
sympathise with people unhappy with that status quo.
o I am not quite sure what to make of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis.
On one hand, I think that Chomsky, and people like Steven Pinker
demonstrate quite conclusively that language is a basic human
instinct, and not a cultural construct. On the other hand, it
would seem obvious that the ideas, and language one grows up with
influence one's outlook. On the whole, I lean towards Chomsky.
Gora (who is still pondering the influence of languages like
Hindi, which assign gender not only to animals, but also
to inanimate objects)
More information about the community