Gender - Language

Language

Natural languages often make gender distinctions. These may be of various kinds, more or less loosely associated by analogy with various actual or perceived differences between men and women.

  • Most languages include terms that are used asymmetrically in reference to men and women. Concern that current language may be biased in favor of men has led some authors in recent times to argue for the use of a more Gender-neutral vocabulary in English and other languages.
  • Several languages attest the use of different vocabulary by men and women, to differing degrees. See, for instance, Gender differences in spoken Japanese. The oldest documented language, Sumerian, records a distinctive sub-language only used by female speakers. Conversely, many Indigenous Australian languages have distinctive registers with limited lexis used by men in the presence of their mothers-in-law (see Avoidance speech).
  • Several languages such as Persian are gender-neutral. In Persian the same word is used in reference to men and women. Verbs, adjectives and nouns are not gendered. (See Gender-neutrality in genderless languages)
  • Grammatical gender is a property of some languages in which every noun is assigned a gender, often with no direct relation to its meaning. For example, the word for "girl" is muchacha (grammatically feminine) in Spanish, Mädchen (grammatically neuter) in German, and cailín (grammatically masculine) in Irish.
  • The term "grammatical gender" is often applied to more complex noun class systems. This is especially true when a noun class system includes masculine and feminine as well as some other non-gender features like animate, edible, manufactured, and so forth. An example of the latter is found in the Dyirbal language. A system traditionally called "gender" appears in the Ojibwe language, which distinguishes between animate and inanimate, but since this does not exhibit a masculine/feminine distinction it might be better described by "noun class." Likewise, Sumerian distinguishes between personal (human and divine) and impersonal (all other) noun classes, but these classes have traditionally been known as genders.

Read more about this topic:  Gender

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Famous quotes containing the word language:

    Men sometimes speak as if the study of the classics would at length make way for more modern and practical studies; but the adventurous student will always study classics, in whatever language they may be written and however ancient they may be. For what are the classics but the noblest recorded thoughts of man?... We might as well omit to study Nature because she is old.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)

    You can’t write about people out of textbooks, and you can’t use jargon. You have to speak clearly and simply and purely in a language that a six-year-old child can understand; and yet have the meanings and the overtones of language, and the implications, that appeal to the highest intelligence.
    Katherine Anne Porter (1890–1980)

    There is no such thing as an ugly language. Today I hear every language as if it were the only one, and when I hear of one that is dying, it overwhelms me as though it were the death of the earth.
    Elias Canetti (b. 1905)