Article

Sep. 6th, 2010 11:48 pm
mayrin: (Default)
Does Your Language Shape How You Think?
By GUY DEUTSCHER
Published: August 26, 2010

The idea that your mother tongue shapes your experience of the world may be true after all.

Quite an interesting article. Several quotes about gender in different languages:

"Let’s take genders again. Languages like Spanish, French, German and Russian not only oblige you to think about the sex of friends and neighbors, but they also assign a male or female gender to a whole range of inanimate objects quite at whim. What, for instance, is particularly feminine about a Frenchman’s beard (la barbe)? Why is Russian water a she, and why does she become a he once you have dipped a tea bag into her?"

 "When I speak English, I may say about a bed that “it” is too soft, but as a native Hebrew speaker, I actually feel “she” is too soft. “She” stays feminine all the way from the lungs up to the glottis and is neutered only when she reaches the tip of the tongue".

"Of course, all this does not mean that speakers of Spanish or French or German fail to understand that inanimate objects do not really have biological sex — a German woman rarely mistakes her husband for a hat, and Spanish men are not known to confuse a bed with what might be lying in it".
 

One of the reasons I prefer English language to French is that I don't have to learn which thing is "she", which is "he", and whether gender is different from that in Russian))

October 2010

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