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Toppling the Grammar Patriarchy

 
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AGoodStory



Joined: 26 Feb 2010
Posts: 738

PostPosted: Thu Nov 16, 2017 5:06 pm    Post subject: Toppling the Grammar Patriarchy Reply with quote

Toppling the Grammar Patriarchy
By Carmen McCoubrey
New York Times 11/16/17


"I still remember my sense of indignation when my high school French teacher told us about the rule: French nouns have a gender, even seemingly sexless ones like “table.” And if you had a mixed group of masculine and female nouns — say, a bunch of male students (étudiants) and female students (étudiantes) — you had to describe them, as a group, in the masculine.

“What if there are 99 female students and one male student?” I demanded.

It didn’t matter, the teacher said. What’s more, if you wrote a sentence about attractive (beaux) étudiants and attractive (belles) étudiantes, the adjective used to describe them had to be masculine, too: “Les étudiants et les étudiantes sont beaux.”

That was just the way French was, she said.

The sexism of that stung. And that was even before I discovered that one of the rationales for this rule in which one man trumped an infinite number of women was that “the masculine gender is deemed more noble than the feminine gender because of the superiority of man over woman.”

That line, from a 1767 grammar book, was cited last week in a declaration signed by 314 teachers in France that they would no longer teach the rule that “the masculine prevails over the feminine” when it came to plural nouns."

Article continues at: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/16/opinion/french-sexism-grammar-everybody.html?em_pos=small&emc=edit_ty_20171116&nl=opinion-today&nl_art=17&nlid=71724470&ref=headline&te=1&_r=0

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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15323

PostPosted: Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Doing Latin in the 1950s I was taught "The male embraces the female" as a way of expressing this. The meaning of course is that when talking of a group including male and female nouns, we will use male pronouns etc to refer to them.

As a Patriarch I have nothing against this. It seems very sensible ! Excuse me while I reach for my flak jacket and tin hat for the inevitable figurative gunfire that will follow.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15323

PostPosted: Tue Dec 19, 2017 10:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Reading this again I find myself wondering if Carmen, the author, is striving to create a Grammar Matriarchy.
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OhBudPowellWhereArtThou



Joined: 02 Jun 2015
Posts: 1168
Location: Since 2003

PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many years ago when I was in college, in any class discussion involving villains of unknown gender, I referred to them as she. Even though the prof was a feminist and a PC grammar cop, she became indignant at my continual reference to Bad Ones as she. She couldn't stand it when someone practiced what she preached.

What's good for the gander is good for the goose.

Unless your prof is a confused feminist.
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kev20



Joined: 31 Jul 2013
Posts: 114

PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But if all the plural nouns are feminine they might start bickering and fighting amonst each other.
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Marinx



Joined: 15 Jul 2017
Posts: 85
Location: Guangdong

PostPosted: Wed Dec 20, 2017 2:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And they say dinosaurs are extinct.
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kev20



Joined: 31 Jul 2013
Posts: 114

PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marinx wrote:
And they say dinosaurs are extinct.


no, just the female ones
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Marinx



Joined: 15 Jul 2017
Posts: 85
Location: Guangdong

PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 2:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

kev20 wrote:

no, just the female ones


Yet, here they are.
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Knedliki



Joined: 08 May 2015
Posts: 160

PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Aren't there more important things to worry about?

At this festive time of year why not just relax and build a non binary snow person.
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Marinx



Joined: 15 Jul 2017
Posts: 85
Location: Guangdong

PostPosted: Thu Dec 21, 2017 12:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Knedliki wrote:
Aren't there more important things to worry about?


Do you have a daughter, wife or mother? Maybe this IS something to worry about, regardless of the time of year.

Happy Festivus to you!
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Knedliki



Joined: 08 May 2015
Posts: 160

PostPosted: Fri Dec 22, 2017 10:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the problem is with society, not language. I'm sure one could make an argument to say they are connected but I'm not buying it.
Changing the language isn't going to stop misogyny IMO. If anything it will divide people even further.

Happy Christmas to you too.
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kev20



Joined: 31 Jul 2013
Posts: 114

PostPosted: Tue Dec 26, 2017 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marinx wrote:
Knedliki wrote:
Aren't there more important things to worry about?


Do you have a daughter, wife or mother? Maybe this IS something to worry about, regardless of the time of year.

Happy Festivus to you!


I have a wife and a mother. Both thankfully born with a sense of humour.
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Marinx



Joined: 15 Jul 2017
Posts: 85
Location: Guangdong

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 2:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kev20 wrote:


I have a wife and a mother. Both thankfully born with a sense of humour.


Fantastic!

My father always said you could tell a lot about a man from the way he spoke about women in public. I guess he was born without a sense of humour too.
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nimadecaomei



Joined: 22 Sep 2016
Posts: 463

PostPosted: Wed Dec 27, 2017 10:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess saying you guys to a mixed gendered group is also sexist now? Forget where the word guy originates. Seriously, gender classification in grammar is completely separate from gender classification in anatomy. It is now not even acceptable to classify anatomically, so should all languages with a gender component just pack up and go into a time capsule? People who scream about sexism are usually the most sexist people you will ever know about. Misanthropy is everywhere, but nobody cares.
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kev20



Joined: 31 Jul 2013
Posts: 114

PostPosted: Thu Dec 28, 2017 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Marinx wrote:
kev20 wrote:


I have a wife and a mother. Both thankfully born with a sense of humour.


Fantastic!

My father always said you could tell a lot about a man from the way he spoke about women in public. I guess he was born without a sense of humour too.


Even if my joke wasn't funny, it was still a joke. I'm not Lewis Hamilton or someone with authority so your 'outrage' isn't going to get you the desired effect here.
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