Archive for the ‘Gender’ Category

Calvin faces grammatical gender

March 1, 2014

The Calvin and Hobbes strip from 2/26:

Calvin shows the common confusion between sex and grammatical gender, compounded by the apparent assumption (incorrect) that the assignment of nouns to grammatical genders is the same in all languages with grammatical gender. I sympathize with the teacher’s frustration.

Playing with French morphology

September 15, 2013

From Benita Bendon Campbell, this reminiscence of a moment during her time in Paris with Ann Daingerfield Zwicky, many years ago:

Ann and I and aother friend were having afternoon tea at our local café on the Boulevard Saint Germain. The patron and patronne had just acquired a German shepherd puppy named Rita. In French, a German shephejrd is “un berger allemand.” Our friend remarked that Rita must be “une bergère allemande” — or a Gereman shepherdess. That is funny in French as well as in English. (The correct form is “une femelle berger allemand.” The name of the breed is invariable.)

Bonnie’s sketch of une bergère allemande:

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Sex/gender symbols

April 13, 2013

From Kim Darnell on Facebook, a story from a year ago (4/17/12) about the adoption of a gender-neutral pronoun in Swedish, with this handsome accompanying graphic:

  (#1)

The graphic has three interlinked components: The “female symbol” (or “mirror of Venus”), a circle (representing a body) with a cross below it (♀ in biological literature); the “male symbol” (or “spear of Mars”), a circle with an arrow at the upper right (♂ in biological literature); and a plain circle in the center, representing a body unspecified as to sex. Turning to grammatical gender rather than biological sex, the mirror of Venus represents feminine gender (as in the Swedish pronoun hon ‘she’), the spear of Mars the masculine gender (as in the Swedish pronoun han ‘he), and the plain circle the new gender-neutral 3sg Swedish pronoun hen).

A complexity here is that this symbol is sometimes taken to be a transgender symbol, the central circle represeting someone who in some sense is *both* female and male. And for this purpose there are a number of competing symbols.

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The silent tiger-duck

October 24, 2012

Making up cards to send to correspondents yesterday, I pulled out a booklet of German stickers for kids. About a creature that appeared to be a wooden pull-toy with the name Tigerente. Tiger-duck? Well, yes, and you can sort of see that:

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