Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 27th Oct 2009 00:37 UTC
Features, Office In the comments on our editorial about language purism and the Psystar case, it became quite clear that language is a subject almost everyone has an opinion on - not odd if you consider that language is at the very centre of what makes us "human". Since this appears to be a popular subject, let's talk about the influence computing has had on two very minor aspects of the Dutch language.
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RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai
by JoeBuck on Tue 27th Oct 2009 18:49 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by kaiwai"
JoeBuck
Member since:
2006-01-11

The fact that so many languages make it so hard to write anything in a gender-neutral way is often a big problem. My 11-year-old daughter is very sensitive to sexist language and assumptions lately; if her native language were not English, things would be much worse.

Douglas Hofstadter of Gödel, Escher, Bach fame wrote an interesting essay about what life would be like if we used a different human attribute than gender to make language distinctions:

http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai
by cefarix on Tue 27th Oct 2009 20:52 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai"
cefarix Member since:
2006-03-18

Well, I would have to disagree. Having genders, plurality, politeness, tenses, etc in language enriches it and lets us communicate in a richer way. Language represents human communication, so it's no surprise that it contains very human concepts in its grammar, such as gender.

A language containing grammatical gender has nothing to do with a piece of literature in that language being demeaning to either men or to women. Such a piece of literature can also be written in a language in which gender is less ingrained into the grammar. In other words, sexism != grammatical gender.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[4]: Comment by kaiwai
by JacobMunoz on Tue 27th Oct 2009 22:16 in reply to "RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai"
JacobMunoz Member since:
2006-03-17

I would add that while grammatical sugar is nice, it doesn't necessarily always take the form of endings, punctuation, case, etc. English is renowned for it's abusability.

See?

... abusability...
Almost makes me feel guilty of something. Linguicide?

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[3]: Comment by kaiwai
by ari-free on Tue 27th Oct 2009 23:20 in reply to "RE[2]: Comment by kaiwai"
ari-free Member since:
2007-01-22

Mailperson? isn't that specieist and offensive to carrier pigeons and other non-persons that deliver the mail?

Reply Parent Score: 2