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#42658 - 10/06/01 10:00 AM Re: Gender and Articles
Keiva Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 2605
The woman(1) and its(1) dog(2)* went shopping, and it(1) bought a pair of new knickers.
Now, isn't that much more neat and tidy and totally understandable? Why can't all English be as clear and easy to follow, hmmm?

But CapK, your reconstuction only works because of the specific facts of that particular sentence. It wouldn't work, for example, with:
The woman(1) and its husband went shopping, and it bought a pair of new pants.
Whose pants would they be: a pair of "his" pants, or "hers" pants? Whichever you say, how would you alter the sentence if you intended to say the opposite? Yes, it can be done, but only with awkwardness.



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#42659 - 10/07/01 12:17 AM Re: Gender and Articles
Capital Kiwi Offline
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Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 3146
Loc: Northamptonshire, England
But using my method you wouldn't write it that way. Any formal language must make its references absolutely clear. Therefore you would write (or say):

The woman(1) and its husband(2) went shopping, and it(1) bought a pair of new pants.

There you are - clear as a bell! Where's your problem?


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#42660 - 10/07/01 08:22 AM Re: Gender and Articles
Keiva Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 2605
But consider some further implications:

If the woman is the purchaser you must say,
The woman and its husband went shopping, and it bought a pair of new pants.
While if the man is the purchaser, you must say,
The man and its wife went shopping, and it bought a pair of new pants.

This creates at least two problems.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
First, you can't gracefully handle a more complex situation, where the second clause covers both people. Such as
The woman and her husband went shopping, and she bought him a new pair of pants. or
The woman and its husband went shopping, and he bought a shirt while she bought pants.
If you lack gender-specific pronouns, you must resort to clumsy substitution of "the former" and "the latter".
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Second and more important: even in the simpler sentences, your phrasing of the first clause commits you to the meaning of the second, even before the second is uttered. Imagine the difficulty in an ongoing conversation, where each idea leads to another. E.g., two women chatting:

"Marge and John went shopping."
"Where?"
"At the mall. There was a *delicious sale."
"Did they buy anything?"
"Yes, it bought a new pair of pants."

"Who did? I can't remember exactly how you phrased your first sentence before."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Doesn't gender in pronouns make it far easier to minimize such confusion?


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#42661 - 10/07/01 10:59 PM Re: Gender and Articles
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
The Indonesian third-person singular pronoun dia is common to both genders. They're quite happy to repeat the noun if there is any ambiguity.

Bingley
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Bingley

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#42662 - 10/08/01 02:48 AM Re: Gender and Articles
Capital Kiwi Offline
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Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 3146
Loc: Northamptonshire, England
Keiva, I think you're missing my point.

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#42663 - 10/08/01 10:55 AM Re: Da point
Keiva Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 2605
Could be, boss Cap'n! I can tell you, though, that I often become confused by wife's conversation, with trouble following whom she means when she refers to "he" or "she" when telling me of a story with multiple he's and she's. I shudder to think how hopelessly befuddled I'd be if all the he's and she's were replaced by it's, leaving out even the gender-clue to meaning.

But then, I befuddle easily!


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#42664 - 10/09/01 12:20 AM Re: Da point
Bingley Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 04/09/00
Posts: 3065
Loc: Jakarta
According to David Crystal's Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language some languages have fourth person forms. The example he gives is from Cree where if you are speaking of two male characters, one would be na:pe:w and the other na:pewa . Would that help?

Bingley
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Bingley

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#42665 - 10/09/01 07:20 AM Re: Gender and Articles
Bean Offline
old hand

Registered: 01/18/01
Posts: 1156
The woman(1) and its husband went shopping, and it bought a pair of new pants.

We already have an equally confusing type of sentence, with no contrived pronoun-switching:

The woman and her sister went shopping, and she bought a new pair of pants.

Who did? (Probably "the woman".) We can usually manage to work it out when we actually use such a sentence in real life.

Having gender-specific pronouns in English only helps in some cases. Anyway, Turkish has the non-gender specific pronoun thing - only "it" - no "he" or "she". So I've become used to my Turkish friend referring to her mother as "he" and her husband as "she" occasionally - it breaks the flow when she stops to think about the pronoun - and I know her well enough to interpolate the errors. I am inclined to see her side of the argument...the "he" and "she" don't necessarily clear things up all the time! Try going to an all-girls' school! All your stories degenerate into "her" and "she", with much extra clarification needed.


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#42666 - 10/09/01 10:35 AM Re: Formal language, Schmormal language!
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
If I catch you throwing numbers around like that when you're talking to me in a pub, I'm sending you right back to Zild! The hard way!


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#42667 - 10/09/01 04:43 PM Re: Formal language, Schmormal language!
Capital Kiwi Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 11/13/00
Posts: 3146
Loc: Northamptonshire, England
If I catch you throwing numbers around like that when you're talking to me in a pub, I'm sending you right back to Zild! The hard way!

Will I be able to get my tongue out of my cheek first, sah?

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