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Thread: language crimes

  1. #11
    CHOMAT is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: language crimes

    Someone wondered whether there was a language with singular noun and no gender. I think it's hard to go round the notion of number in language. Morphem--> referent . Unlikewise gender is far more arbitrary as far as pronouns are concerned and there are other determining marks of gender at hand in language ( nouns!!!)
    In Basque 4000 years old or more, there is no gender :
    [U]Hura[/U] nire laguna da: Hura demonstrative pronoun can either point a man or a woman This man there, is my friend or This woman there...

  2. #12
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: language crimes

    Since this is a gender issue it is a femisnist issue. In German there are suggestions in stead of using plural pronouns as singulars to switch completely to plurals. As Tdol mentioned he/she is cumbersome and additionally need more time and space if a text is long. In some Germans books the writers point out in the introduction that they stick to the male he but mean both. I don't think this is acceptable either. It makes women invisible again. Show me how you speak I tell you how you think.
    Jamshid

  3. #13
    Englishlanguage is offline Member
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    Default Re: language crimes

    Quote Originally Posted by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim View Post
    Since this is a gender issue it is a femisnist issue. In German there are suggestions in stead of using plural pronouns as singulars to switch completely to plurals. As Tdol mentioned he/she is cumbersome and additionally need more time and space if a text is long. In some Germans books the writers point out in the introduction that they stick to the male he but mean both. I don't think this is acceptable either. It makes women invisible again. Show me how you speak I tell you how you think.
    Jamshid
    Many languages tend to use male pronouns to indicate a person whose gender is unknown. In Italian if you want to indicate a group of 999999 women and only one man you have to use a male gender pronoun. Words like president, minister, attorney and many others referring to important roles are inflected into male gender even when the subject is a woman. This depends on the fact that because the most important Italian substrate is Latin, which was spoken in a society (Ancient Romans') only governed by men. They couldn't imagine a woman sitting in the Senate.
    In Italy some people is now realizing this and promoting the use of new words which often appear odd and philologically incorrect. (If anybody here knows a bit of Italian or Latin I could try to give a few examples).
    However nobody has already suggested using plural pronouns.

    Although I initially didn't understand the actual importance of the issue, I agree with those who claim a changing is needed. It's a matter of politeness and, above all, equality.
    Last edited by Englishlanguage; 14-Jun-2007 at 21:24.

  4. #14
    Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: language crimes

    Quote Originally Posted by Englishlanguage View Post
    Although I initially didn't understand the actual importance of the issue, I agree with those who claim a changing is needed. It's a matter of politeness and, above all, equality.
    I am really in two minds about this issue and I must admit I don't like the term "language crimes" because there are no crimes. Any interference in the flow of languages shows dictatorship and won't really work. But of course making women invisible is not acceptable either. But maybe in certain cases dictatorship is better than democracy.
    Last edited by Dr. Jamshid Ibrahim; 15-Jun-2007 at 05:54.

  5. #15
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: language crimes

    Quote Originally Posted by bianca View Post
    Thanks, Barb_D, since I'm not a native speaker I have a hard time assimilating some of the changes in English. But, I guess I have to... since you also have done it.
    I think the pace of change is going to get faster and we're all going to be faced with things that come as a surprise to us. As English becomes more internationalised, non-native speakers will also be calling the changes IMO.

  6. #16
    bianca is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: language crimes

    true. I used to think that dialects are more or less the life of a language, propelling its trajectory in terms of changes. As far as English as a global language is concerned, not only intrinsic dialects, but also various input from other languages renovate it with an equally wild vigour. I am sometimes too slow in keeping pace with some of the changes, I feel kind of traditional at times; I prefer the standard to the off-beat.
    Last edited by bianca; 15-Jun-2007 at 12:13.

  7. #17
    JJM Ballantyne is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: language crimes

    "Sometimes I wonder about the silent 'e' in English words; its use just doesn't make sense. How logical is it, really?"

    There is no silent e in English words. You're confusing the spelling conventions of writing with the spoken language.

    "Crystal also says it’s time we embraced 'they,' 'them' and 'their' as sexless singular pronouns (as in 'Who lost their lunch?'). Much as I admire him, I can’t believe the singular 'they' will become accepted in educated writing in our lifetime. Of course, I could be wrong."

    The third person singular use of they as an epicene pronoun is by no means new; it has been in the English language for a number of centuries. Crystal is right. In my opinion, it's a perfectly acceptable usage.

  8. #18
    JJM Ballantyne is offline Junior Member
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    Default Re: language crimes

    "Many languages tend to use male pronouns to indicate a person whose gender is unknown. In Italian if you want to indicate a group of 999999 women and only one man you have to use a male gender pronoun. Words like president, minister, attorney and many others referring to important roles are inflected into male gender even when the subject is a woman. This depends on the fact that because the most important Italian substrate is Latin, which was spoken in a society (Ancient Romans') only governed by men. They couldn't imagine a woman sitting in the Senate.
    In Italy some people is now realizing this and promoting the use of new words which often appear odd and philologically incorrect. (If anybody here knows a bit of Italian or Latin I could try to give a few examples).
    However nobody has already suggested using plural pronouns.

    Although I initially didn't understand the actual importance of the issue, I agree with those who claim a changing is needed. It's a matter of politeness and, above all, equality."

    A pedantic quibble. When we speak of gender in language it is not synonymous with sex. There are only two possible sexes: male and female. Gender can include masculine, feminine, neuter and other possible noun/pronoun classifications.

    To illustrate:

    In German, girl is neuter in gender but no German speaker would consider a girl as not being a female.

    In French, a table is feminine but no French speaker would consider a table as female.

  9. #19
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    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: language crimes

    Quote Originally Posted by Englishlanguage View Post
    In Italy some people is now realizing this and promoting the use of new words which often appear odd and philologically incorrect. (If anybody here knows a bit of Italian or Latin I could try to give a few examples).
    However nobody has already suggested using plural pronouns.
    Say:
    In Italy some people are now realizing this and are promoting the use of new words which often appear odd and philologically incorrect. (If anybody here knows a bit of Italian or Latin I could try to give a few examples).
    However nobody has yet suggested using plural pronouns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Englishlanguage View Post
    Although I initially didn't understand the actual importance of the issue, I agree with those who claim a changing is needed. It's a matter of politeness and, above all, equality.
    Say:
    Although I initially didn't understand the importance of the issue, I agree with those who claim a change is needed. It's a matter of politeness and, above all, equality.

  10. #20
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: language crimes

    Quote Originally Posted by JJM Ballantyne View Post
    A pedantic quibble.

    Better:
    I disagree.

    Better still:
    I respectfully disagree.

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