How can we entirely eliminate gendered pronouns?

A discussion concerning replacing gendered pronouns with gender-neutral pronouns

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Re: How can we entirely eliminate gendered pronouns?

#61  Postby epepke » Oct 03, 2014 9:20 pm

Spearthrower wrote:One things for sure - no matter how well you think you know you're own language, you really don't know your own language until you study it as if it was a foreign language! :)


Or go through a course to learn how to teach it, which I did. That's when I stopped trying to remember what was a modal verb and what was a pseudo-modal verb and just called them helping verbs.

Linguistics and studying other languages helps, such as for phrasal verbs, which definitely exist in English but aren't highlighted. Everyone pretends it's prepositions, which you should not end a sentence with. However, there are some quite elaborate patterns. There's a huge difference between "the dog turned on the man" and "the dog turned the man on."
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Re: How can we entirely eliminate gendered pronouns?

#62  Postby orpheus » Oct 03, 2014 9:40 pm

epepke wrote:
tuco wrote:
hackenslash wrote:I'm far more interested in verb tenses appropriate for time travellers myself. Not seeing the value of marmalising the language to deal with gender distinctions.


Same here. I am interested in reducing tenses in English to 3: past - present - future, in other words moving towards more logical language. I was even told that Mandarin for example does not have tenses at all.


English doesn't even really have a future tense. It's all helping verbs.


Helping us limp toward a future that doesn't exist...
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Re: How can we entirely eliminate gendered pronouns?

#63  Postby Spearthrower » Oct 03, 2014 9:45 pm

epepke wrote:
Spearthrower wrote:One things for sure - no matter how well you think you know you're own language, you really don't know your own language until you study it as if it was a foreign language! :)


Or go through a course to learn how to teach it, which I did. That's when I stopped trying to remember what was a modal verb and what was a pseudo-modal verb and just called them helping verbs.


My first real encounter with English grammar was just before I started teaching it in Italy. I was left alone at home over Christmas as all Italian friends went back to their respective provinces, and foreign friends flew out to see their families. All I had was the complete collection of Friends in Italian, and a behemoth English Grammar book. I will read a toothpaste packet if I've got nothing else, so I sat there drinking wine all Christmas while becoming a grammar guru! :grin:


epepke wrote:Linguistics and studying other languages helps, such as for phrasal verbs, which definitely exist in English but aren't highlighted. Everyone pretends it's prepositions, which you should not end a sentence with. However, there are some quite elaborate patterns. There's a huge difference between "the dog turned on the man" and "the dog turned the man on."


:grin:

I love phrasal verbs, but only if the students are level 5 or 6 (low-/intermediate) - I'd always turn it into a history lesson! :lol:
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Re: How can we entirely eliminate gendered pronouns?

#64  Postby Clive Durdle » Oct 03, 2014 10:20 pm

The order of adjectives that it is impossible for a native English speaker to get wrong until they are taught it - green jolly giants!
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Re: How can we entirely eliminate gendered pronouns?

#65  Postby Evolving » Oct 05, 2014 9:32 pm

Evolving wrote:It seems to me, from the languages that I think I know well enough to be able to form a judgment, that they all have their own ways of expressing a fundamental outlook: the male as the default.


epepke wrote:That's why I don't trust the conclusion. It seems that way to everybody. It's a bit on the facile side. Of course that's what people find, but also, of course, that's what they are looking for.


Evolving wrote:What do you think about the other examples from German that I mentioned (on the previous page)?


I was hoping that this conversation might continue.
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Re: How can we entirely eliminate gendered pronouns?

#66  Postby don't get me started » Oct 06, 2014 4:39 am

Japanese tends to omit pronouns altogether in daily interactions.
So here is my weekend in an English rendering of the Japanese way of expressing it:

Weekend, went to Korea with friend to do presentation at conference. Good and successful. Many people in audience and enjoyed. After presentation go out with other friends. Eating Korean barbecue. Very tasty and spicy. Other person didn't eat much. Say too spicy, but after drinking beer changed opinion then can eat.
Next go to bar and talking to members.

There are pronouns in Japanese, but my sense is that the male/ female dimension is not as prominent in discourse. There are gender differences in the first person singular that don't exist in English. Watashi is the gender neutral 1st person singular, but women will often use 'atashi' which is not suitable for male usage, and men will often use 'ore' or boku', neither of which are suitable for women to use.
My sense in Japanese is that the male/ female distinction takes a second place to in-group/ out group distinctions and pronoun selection based on this dimension and on the politeness/ casual gradation.

Kisama is a VERY aggressive and dismissive version of 'you'. In the Terrence Malik film 'Thin red line' a dying Japanese soldier says to a American. 'Kisama mo, itsuka shinu da yo.' This can be rendered as 'You too, someday will die.' But to convey the sense of aggression and disrespect in the choice of Kisama as the second person pronoun, a better rendering was suggested to me by a friend from Northern Ireland. ' You're gonna die an' all, y' cunt, ye'

There are issues surrounding pronoun choice(or omission) that are differentially important to different language cultures, it seems to me.
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