Saturday, January 10, 2015

La stupide

I'll gladly acknowledge that English is a morass of sadistically convoluted rules and conventions with the consistency of a squirrel on crack. By comparison, most other Romantic (i.e. Latin-based) languages tend to "behave": here's the rules and we're gonna stick to them. But one thing I think English gets right (and maybe it's the only thing English gets right) is genderless articles.  I'm reasonably fluent in Spanish, but I suck at remembering the gender of nouns.  Oh, sure, nouns that end in "-o" or "-a" are simple enough (...usually... except for the completely nonsensical exceptions... I'm looking at you day, water, Pope, etc.) and there's fairly consistent rules about nouns that end in "-ad" or "-ión".

My grievance is that such gender differentiation exists at all.  I know language teachers say not to think about noun genders like anatomical genders... but that's like telling people not to think about a pink elephant. While I can believe that if one grows up with a language that engenders its nouns that can blunt thoughts of feminizing of masculating the objects of those nouns... but I find it difficult to believe that any speaker of any language with gendered nouns doesn't harbor at least subconscious thoughts of the anatomical analogs of those nouns. I mean English virtually abandoned gendered nouns centuries ago, and yet ships are still "her" as are most countries.

So as a demonstration of this absurdity, here we have a map that color-codes the nations of the Earth according to how their names are gendered in French. Granted, this is French, which practically fetishizes the practice of needlessly decorating words and phrases with pointless flourishes, but this is particularly ridiculous.  There's absolutely no good reason to have assigned genders to every country, regardless of how much everybody is supposed to ignore any physiological correlation;

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