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  1. #11
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: "The secret of HIS nose" is correct? (the nose of a train)

    Quote Originally Posted by HelenaHaden View Post
    We cannot use "his" or"her" as it is not a human.
    There is no rule that says we cannot use he/she for non-human things or beings. People routinely refer to their pets as he/she, and she is commonly used for ships/cars, etc. With animals, we tend to use it for animals that we are not close to, so a cow is usually it even though we know the gender, but a cat or dog that lives with us is not. Pronoun choice is not simply dependent on whether it is is human or not, whether we know the gender, or even whether it has a gender.

  2. #12
    VillaCarlosPaz is offline Newbie
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    Re: "The secret of HIS nose" is correct? (the nose of a train)

    I'm grateful for your answers.

  3. #13
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
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    Re: "The secret of HIS nose" is correct? (the nose of a train)

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    There is no rule that says we cannot use he/she for non-human things or beings. People routinely refer to their pets as he/she, and she is commonly used for ships/cars, etc. With animals, we tend to use it for animals that we are not close to, so a cow is usually it even though we know the gender, but a cat or dog that lives with us is not. Pronoun choice is not simply dependent on whether it is is human or not, whether we know the gender, or even whether it has a gender.
    I have noticed that English speakers commonly use "he" for animals of unknown sex or ever for hermaphrodite animals. Do you think "it" is more common? I believe I hear "he" more often, but the difference isn't great. I rarely hear "she" in such cases. I'm very sensitive to this because my language has retained grammatical gender, and hearing someone call a parrot (which is a she in Polish) a he always gives me a feeling of dissonance.

  4. #14
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Re: "The secret of HIS nose" is correct? (the nose of a train)

    Hello:

    There is a saying that when you hear hooves, think of horses -- not zebras. In other words, think first of the obvious.

    I suspect that the person who translated the Japanese title into English was a person who was not completely fluent

    in English. (Many years ago, someone titled his book English As She Is Spoke. He really (= in fact) thought that he knew

    English well enough to write a book! I think that this is another example of someone whose translation abilities need

    some improvement.)

    *****

    I did some googling, and it's pretty clear that there is no excuse for the "his." Here are three sentences (among many)

    that I found:

    "The production processes of a Series 700 Shinkansen train including its nose structure."

    "The 700 Shinkansen is characterized by its flat 'duck-bill' nose."

    "[The bullet train] gets its nickname from its rounded nose."


    Sincerely yours,


    James
    Last edited by TheParser; 19-Aug-2012 at 18:35. Reason: I originally wrote "hoofs," but one expert said that "hooves" is more common.

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