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#42638 - 10/03/01 12:10 PM Re: Gender and Articles
Keiva Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/04/01
Posts: 2605
Faldage says, "The only men's jobs and women's jobs are those which actually *require a penis or a vagina."
Definition should perhaps be broadened a bit to include the ancient and honorable profession of wet-nurse.


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#42639 - 10/03/01 12:19 PM Re: Gender and Articles
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13783
the ancient and honorable profession of wet-nurse.


Good point, Keiva.


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#42640 - 10/03/01 02:09 PM Gender rant
Bobyoungbalt Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/22/00
Posts: 1289
Well, Helen, I certainly agree with you about how women have been, and still are, always gypped vis-a-vis men by society, but I don't think you can blame that on feminine suffixes in the language. The root of that evil is, as in so many cases, filthy lucre or the desire thereof.

Actually, some women would, I think, have more reason to complain than English-speakers. Take the German damsels who are relegated to being neuter gender, mere things, because the noun which describes them has a diminutive suffix. (See earlier post in this thread.) But then, German has a little leg up for the ladies. A married woman whose husband is one of a number of professionals takes her husband's title. The wife of Dr. Schmidt is known, and addressed, as Frau Doktor Schmidt; Prof. Schwartz' wife is Frau Professor Schwartz; the wife of engineer Krautkopf is Frau Engenieur Krautkopf, etc. However, the wife of Assistant Gas Main Inspector Katzenellenbogen is known as Frau Katzenellenbogen, not Frau Untergashauptleitungsinspektor Kaztenellenbogen, not because she couldn't fit it on her calling card, but because it's not a prestigious title. Thus, a German woman gains prestige from her husband's position if it's exalted enough, and back in the days when such things counted, went down to dinner before other non-titled ladies.

In an ideal world, we could have gender-specific words and descriptive titles, and they would be just that, and no more, with no effects on social status, rates of pay and such other non-linguistic matters.


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#42641 - 10/03/01 02:16 PM Re: Gender rant
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13783
German has a little leg up for the ladies. A married woman whose husband is one of a number of professionals takes her husband's title

And, of course, if she has earned the title on her own we can always just assume that she got it by virtue [sic] of being married to the "real" holder of the title.


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#42642 - 10/03/01 04:41 PM Re: Down to dinner
Anonymous
Unregistered


Thus, a German woman gains prestige from her husband's position if it's exalted enough, and back in the days when such things counted, went down to dinner before other non-titled ladies.[EA]

What a *great post, BYB - the perfect mixture of information and entertainment. 'tis posts such as this which keep me coming back to AWAD.

I'm curious about the phrase I bolded; how does one go "down to dinner"? Is this in the context of a restaurant, and being seated before someone of lower stature?


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#42643 - 10/03/01 05:21 PM Re: Gender rant
Rouspeteur Offline
member

Registered: 03/10/01
Posts: 163
Gee. So many things to respond to.

>>>I certainly agree with you about how women have been, and still are, always gypped vis-a-vis men by society,

Women are not always cheated by men (to be really PC, for gypped has its origin in Gypsy). There are inequalities and imbalances in all societies and men are not treated equally either. Women don't get executed for murder, don't get drafted, and can get out of the military by getting pregnant. Boys are put on ritalin at much higher rates and score lower on standardised tests, and have higher drop-out rates with nary a male-oriented program to help them. The Canadian government has a hiring policy to encourage women in non-traditional jobs like engineering and computer science and yet there are no programs to encourage men to become clerks, nurses, or teachers - professions that are heavily female.

In some cases language can have an effect and shape people's judgement but there are limits as to how far this argument can be extended. I have my doubts about actresses getting paid less just because they are called actresses. More likely it has to do with the fact that <most> men will only go to see a "chick" flick when they have to (i.e. when dating or an anniversary), otherwise its explosions and car chases that rule the day. How did, for example, Terminator 2 do against Thelma and Louise?

Not every gender difference has to do with discrimination some are based on real, quantifiable differences. I don't think that it is coincidence that feminine products and laundry soap are advertised during soap operas and beer and pickup trucks are advertised during football.

To finish this rant, an snippet from the Book of Heroic Failures by Stephen Pile. Under the heading of "The Least Successful Equal Pay Advertisement" was the story of how, several decades ago, when Ireland was joining the EU they were told that no longer could they pay men and women different amounts for the same job. The Irish government put out an advertisement for the position of Equal Pay Commissioner with, you guessed it, two different pay scales, one for men and one for women.

End of counter-rant.

Rouspeteur (not to be confused with mon épouse, la Rouspeteuse)


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#42644 - 10/04/01 10:29 AM Re: Down to dinner
Bobyoungbalt Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/22/00
Posts: 1289
Gymkhana, glad to hear you enjoy the board and hope to hear more from you.

In the 19th century and early part of the 20th, the dinner party was a prominent part of life in the upper middle and higher classes, in the UK and to a lesser extent in the US.

The drill for a dinner party was that the guests assembled, around 7:00 p.m., in the drawing room of the host, where they mingled and made light conversation until time for dinner. Meanwhile, the hostess was greeting and chatting and pairing up the guests to go to dinner, letting each one know whom he would be escorting to the table. When the butler announced that dinner was served, the host took the arm of the highest ranking lady and led the way, followed by the hostess with the highest ranking man, followed by the next highest ranking man with the next highest ranking lady, etc.

In a Town [i.e., London] house, the dining room was always on the ground floor, the drawing room on the [English] first floor [US 2nd floor], so one literally went down to dinner. In a country house, where the drawing room would be on the ground floor across the hall from the dining room, one went in to dinner.

The rules of precedence by which the rankings were determined were rigid and invariable and every hostess had to know them inside out. It would be not only an embarassment of the first order, but a positive insult, to allow a lower ranking guest to precede a higher ranking one. This could get really complicated if you had a very mixed company, say with a Colonel of the Blues, the grandson of a marquess, a Baronet, the Dean of Barchester, a barrister who was a QC, an MP, their respective wives, plus the widow of an earl's son and a Harley Street physician who was a knight.

BTW, my information on this, and other recherché data on life as we see it in Jane Austen, Trollope, Dickens, et al., comes from one of my favorite books, which I highly recommend: What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew: From Fox Hunting to Whist -- the Facts of Daily Life in 19th-Century England by Daniel Pool. Simon & Schuster 1993


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#42645 - 10/04/01 01:31 PM unpaired gender-specific names
wofahulicodoc Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/06/01
Posts: 4499
Loc: Worcester, MA
In Italian... there are many paired names, where the ending indicates the gender: Maria/Mario Francesca/Francesco ...etc etc.

Then there are some that are disctinctly masculine or feminine, but don't have a corresponding pair: Marco, ***Fiorella,*** Laura, Sara. etc, etc ...


Are our memories too short (I'd prefer to think we're too young, instead) to recall Fiorello LaGuardia?

And where does Marcia fit in this schema?




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#42646 - 10/05/01 12:47 AM Re: Gender and Articles
kirky Offline
stranger

Registered: 10/02/01
Posts: 4
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Earlier Bobyoungbalt commented on the advantage or otherwise of being able to cleary indicate gender in English:
In reply to:

Now that we have had a good bit of discussion, which I have enjoyed, about the wierdness of grammatical gender, I have to put in a plug for clearly defined gender.
The lack of any indication of gender in 99% of cases in modern English is perhaps a shortcoming. In situations when it may be desirable to indicate gender, you usually have to resort to some sort of periphrasis, often clumsy.


When I was living in Italy, I remember being frustrated that the ambiguity present in English was not available when I made the statement that I was "going out to dinner with a friend". Sometimes I want the listener be left wondering whether my 'friend' was male of female! In italian you have to say "la mia amica" or "il mio amico" , indicating female or male respectively.

Conversely, I found it very strange to use the masculine plural "amici" to indicte a mixed gender group.


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#42647 - 10/05/01 09:34 AM Re: Gender and Articles
Bobyoungbalt Offline
veteran

Registered: 11/22/00
Posts: 1289
Kirky finds it strange that a plural of mixed gender should always take the masculine form.

Well, that's been one of the whines of the feminist movement. It is a fact that in every Indo-European language I know anything about that when you have a mixed plural or a word with an indeterminate gender, the default form is the masculine. It gets more strange in the Romance languages without the neuter gender. In French, it is always "he" who rains or beams sunnily, as in "Il pleut, il fait beau." Same in Italian, but since the pronoun is usually omitted, it's not obvious.

The feminists' wrath against the use of "he" as the default for the indeterminate pronoun is the cause of the new use of the plural pronoun instead. There are plenty of us old-timers who hate this usage although having some (not much) sympathy with the ladies. I do not like a usage like "If anyone wants a cup of coffee, they will have to go to the kitchen for it." But this has become so common that now it's getting to be a mindless reflex and you have outrages like "If any new mother wants home nurse visits, they will have to call the Home Service Dept." Or, "If any father wants to sign up as a coach, they need to see Joe Smith." I have actually, and more than once, heard such a sentence used by newscasters. It has got to the point where this neologistic plural is used for all purposes, even where there is only one gender involved.


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