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Thread: Regarding choice of gender...

  1. #1
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    Regarding choice of gender...

    I am reading a philosophical paper at the moment where the author refers to a 'person' in his argumentation. At some point he refers to this 'person' as 'she' (example below), though it is clear from the discourse that it's neither man nor woman, just a abstract person. This is the example:

    If a person speaks the truth, and we have good reason to believe sheknows what she's talking about, and moreover we have good reason to believe she is trustworthy, then believing what she says is a true belief grounded in good reasons--a form of knowledge, by most accounts.

    Why she? (not they or he...)

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    Is it a recently published paper? Maybe they were trying to "positively discriminate" male dominance?
    I can imagine some of the recent papers being like this. (No such thing in Russian - слава Богу ...)
    alexsms and RedFox like this.

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    It'sJanuary 1996. There is no evidence of any discrimination here, it's purely philosophical, no politics involved... so i am wondering at this choice of gender.

    The discussion is about truth and knowledge of a person, truth about a person (gender is irrelevant here).

    Here is another istance of referring to 'her':
    But in knowing other persons such a goal is incoherent and unethical, because there is no getting around the authority of the person known, her right to speak for herself and have a say about how she is to be known.

    So the author always refers to a person as SHE.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cumulus View Post
    Is it a recently published paper? Maybe they were trying to "positively discriminate" male dominance?
    I can imagine some of the recent papers being like this. (No such thing in Russian - слава Богу ...)
    but it makes sense, now when i think about it...

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    Завсегдатай Antonio1986's Avatar
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    In case he didn't mention the gender on a previous sentence or there is not any other clue indicating a female person then he* should have used "he" if the writer wanted to abide by the grammar rules (I think that this is the rule in Russian. I am sure that this is the rule in Greek, German and Italian). Words representing a living person: anyone, someone, person, no one etc are always male.
    I don't know whether "positive discrimination" is a new approach in grammar in the English Language.

    *For example now I don't know the gender of the author. Grammar forces me to use he. I suppose a Suffragette would disagree ...
    Чем больше слов, тем меньше они стоят.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Antonio1986 View Post
    In case he didn't mention the gender on a previous sentence or there is not any other clue indicating a female person then he* should have used "he" if the writer wanted to abide by the grammar rules (I think that this is the rule in Russian. I am sure that this is the rule in Greek, German and Italian). Words representing a living person: anyone, someone, person, no one etc are always male.
    I don't know whether "positive discrimination" is a new approach in grammar in the English Language.

    *For example now I don't know the gender of the author. Grammar forces me to use he. I suppose a Suffragette would disagree ...
    Well, using "she" is wrong even for "positive gender discrimination". If so, you should go for "he or she" or "they". The point is, I've seen a paper or two in business & social sciences (both ENG and GER) where this happens. It's not a rule. And language wise, it's wrong. (Unless there is some clue in the text ...)

    Not sure about Greek, but German & English do have this thing when it comes to gender. Some institutes require publications be up to this rule. (the place I live in, it's supposed to be like this - I leave it up to you to decide whether or not it's OK). The majority of faculties/institutes, however, still do not care, though. I'm glad I did not have to bother about that when I wrote my stuff in finance. There isn't much of "he" or "she" to write when talking about interest rates or w/e.

    I'm not a native Russian, but I cannot seen this type of discussion there. For I think it doesn't even exist. :P

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-...utral_pronouns

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsms View Post
    It'sJanuary 1996. There is no evidence of any discrimination here, it's purely philosophical, no politics involved... so i am wondering at this choice of gender.

    The discussion is about truth and knowledge of a person, truth about a person (gender is irrelevant here).

    Here is another istance of referring to 'her':
    But in knowing other persons such a goal is incoherent and unethical, because there is no getting around the authority of the person known, her right to speak for herself and have a say about how she is to be known.

    So the author always refers to a person as SHE.
    Is the author female?

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    Властелин Deborski's Avatar
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    There is a trend to use the female gender pronoun among some educators and writers in the US these days as a challenge to the established male-only gender pronoun. It is not a very common trend and has not really caught on, but you will run into it from time to time.

    This is part of a movement related to using the word "person" instead of "man" - as in "congressperson" as opposed to "congressman" - in order to make the English language more accepting of the female gender and less male-centered. From what I can recall this movement began in the late 80's or early 90's but never really caught on.

    Personally, just weighing in as the token "suffragette" (since most of you seem to be male, judging from your comments), I do not think we are going to end discrimination against women by changing the gender of pronouns in sentences. I have no interest in getting into a debate about feminism, but for the sake of discussion I will just say that negative and discriminatory attitudes against women do pervade society, and the roots of this discrimination extend deeply into our culture, traditions and religion. Changing gender pronouns is not going to make a difference and will only confuse people.
    alexsms likes this.

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    to Cumulus,
    the author is male

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    Завсегдатай Throbert McGee's Avatar
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    So the author always refers to a person as SHE.
    I would agree that this is a case where the author was trying to be "politically correct" and "grammatically correct" at the same time -- thus he was unwilling to use either "he" or "they" after the gender-neutral, singular noun "person."

    I would also agree with Deborski that in most circumstances, trying to fight discrimination against women by using "inclusive" pronouns or by changing "manhole cover" to "sewer-access lid" is completely stupid.

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    Властелин Deborski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Throbert McGee View Post
    I would agree that this is a case where the author was trying to be "politically correct" and "grammatically correct" at the same time -- thus he was unwilling to use either "he" or "they" after the gender-neutral, singular noun "person."

    I would also agree with Deborski that in most circumstances, trying to fight discrimination against women by using "inclusive" pronouns or by changing "manhole cover" to "sewer-access lid" is completely stupid.
    It's like putting a band-aid on an amputation. Not gonna solve the problem!

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    Властелин iCake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deborski View Post
    It's like putting a band-aid on an amputation
    Hey we have an expression that means exactly the same just worded differently. "Как мёртвому припарки" I'll try to remember the English version of it. Thanks
    I do not claim that my opinion is absolutely true.
    If you've spotted any mistake in my English, please, correct it. I want to be aware of any mistakes to efficiently eliminate them before they become a habit.

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    Властелин Deborski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by iCake View Post
    Hey we have an expression that means exactly the same just worded differently. "Как мёртвому припарки" I'll try to remember the English version of it. Thanks
    Like a poultice for the dead. It makes sense.

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    теперь все понятно, всем спасибо за участие и предложенные идеи.

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    To remind of the situation in Russian,

    Однако, следует напомнить, что в русском традиционно в подобных случаях употребляются формы мужского рода (i guess everyone knows that).

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    Властелин Deborski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsms View Post
    To remind of the situation in Russian,

    Однако, следует напомнить, что в русском традиционно в подобных случаях употребляются формы мужского рода (i guess everyone knows that).
    Да, вот это ясно. А мне ещё чуть странно назвать стол "он" или тарелку "она" - но стараюсь )

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deborski View Post
    Да, вот это ясно. А мне ещё чуть странно назвать стол "он" или тарелку "она" - но стараюсь )
    Нам же странно, когда child - это it. Для нас это похожо на "оно"- genderless.

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    Властелин Deborski's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsms View Post
    Нам же странно, когда child - это it. Для нас это похожо на "оно"- genderless.
    А мне это тоже странно ))

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    Quote Originally Posted by alexsms View Post
    Нам же странно, когда child - это it. Для нас это похожо на "оно"- genderless.
    "Дитя" тоже среднего рода.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Deborski View Post
    Да, вот это ясно. А мне ещё чуть странно назвать стол "он" или тарелку "она" - но стараюсь )
    В понедельник смотрел по ТВ сюжет про изучение русского языка в Финляндии. Упоминали там и эту проблему (1:30).
    А носители русского языка эту проблемы не чувствуют, так как есть "женские" и "мужские" окончания слов, которые подсказывают род (мужской или женский) неодушевлённых предметов.
    Хотя, иногда эти окончания обманывают. Например: кофей (устаревшее) - мужской род; кофе - мужской род (по традиции с кофей), но окончание подсказывает, что средний. Учёные говорят, что кофе неизбежно поменяет род (станет средним) благодаря окончанию.

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