OT: Re: gender-neutral English usage

omcomali.rhn at porcupinefactory.org omcomali.rhn at porcupinefactory.org
Wed Jan 20 23:00:49 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:
> >> I think it could be just historical. Nowadays, you should act the same
> >> regardless of the gender of the person you're talking to or about except
> >> in some situations. At least in a perfect world, where a
> >> worker/colleague of either gender is considered the same value.
> >
> > 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.
In different situations, I myself assign different values to people of different genders, yes. This is usually backed up by statistics - for example, I assume more men than women are capable of heavy lifting ;) Other people are likely to do the same. Aren't you?

> 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.
That is what I meant. Moreover, I believe that all people impose different behavior on themselves depending on whether they're talking to a male or a female.
Someone might unintentionally treat women more lightly or try to compete with men... these are only guesses, but I think that it's impossible to treat both males and females exactly the same in all situations.

As for the influence of language, I think it's not the only influence. Most of the contacts people have are personal, and there is no reason not to differentiate genders. This should make people approach different genders differently regardless of the language they use.

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