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  1. Unregistered

    Use of feminine for countries and vessels

    I've always wondered why countries are referred as feminine eg Kenya and HER neighbors and not Kenya and ITS neighbors.

    Same for vessels eg When Titanic hit the iceberg, SHE had been cruising at a relatively good speed.

    Please clarify

  2. heidita's Avatar
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    Re: Use of feminine for countries and vessels

    Hi guest, jeje, the reason is: the English are weird guys!! lol

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
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    Re: Use of feminine for countries and vessels

    Depends on whether you regard your native country as your motherland or fatherland.

    And the boat's femininity is ancient.

  3. Ouisch's Avatar
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    Re: Use of feminine for countries and vessels

    My favorite magazine, Mental Floss, once gave an explanation as to why countries are "feminine":

    “Stand beside her, and guide her,” we sing in “God Bless America.” Come to think of it, most nations of the world are referred to in the female gender. However, it’s not because of some last-minute token political correctness.

    English is one of the few languages that does not distinguish between masculine and feminine nouns. For example, in English, a cat is a cat, and a dog is a dog. But in French, a cat is la chat, making it a feminine noun, while a dog is le chien, which makes it masculine (whether or not it’s actually a bitch). (And we mean “bitch” strictly in the canine sense.) Latin, the root of the English language, also has feminine and masculine words, and terra firma is one of them. Terra firma means earth, or solid ground, and it is feminine. So, partly because of its Latin origin, and partly because the rich earth beneath our feet was the original source of food (and nurturing) for our ancestors, our humble planet became known as Mother Earth.

    Keeping with that train of thought, all land in general was eventually referred to in the feminine sense. We speak of “her shores” and “the Motherland.” The sole exception is Germany, which, during World War II, was known as "Vaterland.” Technically, vaterland is gender-neutral, but it was translated into English as “Fatherland.” The terms is not used much today, due to its negative connotations.


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