Sunday, February 12, 2012

Turkish and neutral gender pronouns

D - I dislike using "they" and "their" in some cases.
It does not feel right. But then again, it is no more or less awkward than the existing conventions in English.
I - we
You - you... youz? yous?
He, She, It - all they.

D - an aux-lang IAL could allow for optional object/ human/ and gender aspects.
I (as a female). You (plural, as men). Or skip all detail.
Some languages get by just fine that way.

Turkish has no noun classes or grammatical gender.
They seem to get by just fine without it.

D - I really like their linked noun system.

Two nouns, or groups of nouns, may be joined in either of two ways:

definite (possessive) compound (belirtili tamlama). E.g. Türkiye'nin sesi "the voice of Turkey (radio station)": the voice belonging to Turkey. Here the relationship is shown by the genitive ending -in4 added to the first noun; the second noun has the third-person suffix of possession -(s)i4.
indefinite (qualifying) compound (belirtisiz tamlama). E.g. Türkiye Cumhuriyeti "Turkey-Republic[48] = the Republic of Turkey": not the republic belonging to Turkey, but the Republic that is Turkey. Here the first noun has no ending; but the second noun has the ending -(s)i4—the same as in definite compounds.

Simple Personal Pronouns
Singular Plural
ben - I biz - we
sen - you - [familiar] siz - you - [plural and formal singular]
o - He, she, it onlar - they

(Nice rant about the English use of "whom" here.)


D - I would not recommmend trying to remove gender from English pronouns without warning the listener first. I once made the mistake of referring to a baby as "it" once. ONCE. I mean, I had no idea what gender the kid was!

D - an obvious twist on English would be the use of pidgin-style reduplication. For example, he-he for they/masculine. You-you for you/plural.


D - some languages are even more demanding than English about masculine /feminine in pronouns.

In some languages — notably most Indo-European, Afro-Asiatic and a number of Niger–Congo languages — some personal pronouns intrinsically distinguish male from female; the selection of a pronoun necessarily specifies, at least to some extent, the gender of what is referred. Traditionally, the masculine form has been taken to be the markless form, that is the form to be used unless it is known to be inappropriate.

The Sapir–Whorf hypothesis is a common justification,[citation needed] in addition to humanist and pluralistic reasons,[citation needed] for applying gender-neutral pronouns to the English language.

In some languages, pronouns do not distinguish between genders, so gender equity of pronouns is not relevant. This category includes many East Asian languages (see below) as well as the Uralic languages.

D - gender-neutral prounouns were in Middle English but died out.

Middle EnglishHistorically, there were two gender neutral pronouns native to English dialects, "ou" and "a", but they have long since died out. According to Dennis Baron's Grammar and Gender:

In 1789, William H. Marshall records the existence of a dialectal English epicene pronoun, singular "ou": "'Ou will' expresses either he will, she will, or it will." Marshall traces "ou" to Middle English epicene "a", used by the 14th century English writer John of Trevisa, and both the OED and Wright's English Dialect Dictionary confirm the use of "a" for he, she, it, they, and even I. This "a" is a reduced form of the Anglo-Saxon he = "he" and heo = "she"
—Dennis Baron, Grammar and Gender[5]
Baron goes on to describe how relics of these sex-neutral terms survive in some British dialects of Modern English (for example "hoo" for "she", in Yorkshire), and sometimes a pronoun of one gender might be applied to a person or animal of the opposite gender.

D - which leads us to the modern and clunky reintroduction of gender-neutral pronouns to serve the needs of gender sensitivity (also known as political correctness).

The gender specificity of English pronouns may, arguably, create potential problems:

Gender bias can be interjected into language, and biased gender roles may be interjected into language. For example it is common to use the pronoun "he" if gender is unknown.
A speaker may wish to mask the gender of the person being discussed, e.g., to avoid indicating whether a romantic partner is male or female (see pronoun game).
A speaker may not know the referent's gender, and implying one may be misleading or otherwise inappropriate.
A speaker may be referring to any hypothetical individual. In casual speech, "they" is often used, but in written works this may not be acceptable, due to its plurality. "One" may be used instead (see below), but is often considered overly bombastic.
A speaker may be discussing someone who is arguably described poorly (or not at all) by the gender categories associated with "he" and "she," as in the case of a referent who identifies as genderqueer.

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