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Tue May 23, 2017, 09:54 AM

Are the Latin based languages such as Spanish sexist?

After all, they have feminine and masculine word assignment and the feminine is always diminutive, i.e., the lesser.

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Reply Are the Latin based languages such as Spanish sexist? (Original post)
Ligyron May 2017 OP
unblock May 2017 #1
JayhawkSD May 2017 #2
Ligyron May 2017 #6
Iggo May 2017 #3
Sailor65x1 May 2017 #4
Ligyron May 2017 #7
rock May 2017 #5
Lifelong Protester May 2017 #8
whathehell Dec 2017 #9
LWolf Jan 2018 #10
Name removed Sep 2018 #11

Response to Ligyron (Original post)

Tue May 23, 2017, 10:06 AM

1. there's some truth to that, but a lot of times it's arbitrary, could be "green vs blue"

instead of "masculine vs. feminine".

"table" is masculine in french but feminine in spanish (le table, la mesa).

and sometimes it seemingly runs counter --

"manliness" is feminine (la virilidad in spanish).


however, i do recall some study years ago suggesting gendered languages do have an influence on gender attitudes.

perhaps we would be better off just calling them "green vs. blue"....

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Response to Ligyron (Original post)

Tue May 23, 2017, 10:06 AM

2. I don't speak any of the Romance languages...

 

...at least not at all well, but is it possible that you know only of the word "senorita" and not of "senora" for a female person?

I have had Spanish-speaking work crews for many years, and the Mexican men who worked in those crews were, for the most part, more respectful to women than most Anglos I know. Anyway, I'm not sure than I follow the meaning of, "the feminine is always diminutive, i.e., the lesser." Can you provide some samples?

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Response to JayhawkSD (Reply #2)

Tue May 23, 2017, 03:43 PM

6. I don't speak them well either, lol.

But it just seems that in Spanish, for instance, things tend to default to a masculine. It dominates. An example would be, say, brothers and sisters where instead of saying both gender terms one says "hermanos".

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Response to Ligyron (Original post)

Tue May 23, 2017, 10:14 AM

3. I'm not sure I see where "the feminine is always diminutive, i.e., the lesser."

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Response to Ligyron (Original post)

Tue May 23, 2017, 11:05 AM

4. The only truth there,

 

is that the languages are gendered. The idea that the feminine forms within the language are somehow "Diminutive, " or the language sexist, is false (Male and female types are very arbitrarily assigned to the nouns, which leads away from sexist stereotyping, not toward it.). Which of them do you speak, and are basing your theory on?

Interestingly though, Romance languages will have a much harder time trying to accommodate a crazy pallette of new pronouns and gender behaviors than English does, because of the gendered vocabulary.

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Response to Sailor65x1 (Reply #4)

Tue May 23, 2017, 04:31 PM

7. Yeah, I don't speak any of them well.

That's why I was asking. It seemed to me that perhaps the very fact of a language being gendered might lead to sexism at some level. With spanish we have the whole concept of machismo which, to be fair, is present in all cultures to some extent.

With the diminutive I was thinking along the lines of hour vs minutes, larger things being male and smaller things tending to be female and so on. At least that's what my Spanish teacher said back in high school.It's not universal to be sure. I certainly didn't mean to declare that these languages necessarily were sexist, it was just a question that came to mind and I thought I'd take it to DU to perhaps get a more informed opinion.

There's a BBC article entitled ¿Es sexista el idioma español? along these lines.

In it, I understand the Venezuelan constitution had a hard time trying of accommodate that crazy pallatte of new titles and pronouns. Come to think of it, job tittles tend to favor the masculine if I'm not mistaken.

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Response to Ligyron (Original post)

Tue May 23, 2017, 12:13 PM

5. Generally linguists refer the language distinction as "gender"

Which is a purely grammatical difference. And has nothing (or little) to do with sex. Of course, you can be a misogynist in any language.

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Response to Ligyron (Original post)

Tue May 23, 2017, 10:13 PM

8. As a teacher of Spanish, I'd say it is sexist.

Not because they assign gender, but because if you have a group of women, and add just one man, you have to use the 'mixed gender' pronoun. (Which is the same as the male pronoun).

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Response to Ligyron (Original post)

Sun Dec 31, 2017, 08:47 AM

9. Not just the latin-based...Eastern European languages (Slavic) have them too

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Response to Ligyron (Original post)

Mon Jan 1, 2018, 02:30 PM

10. Language evolves.

If we acknowledge that language evolved out of sexist societies, it should be no surprise to find gender bias in language.

It should also be no surprise that we can leave bias behind, and help language evolve into gender-neutrality. We see it happening right now with English; a rough, messy process to replace gender-based pronouns with neutral pronouns. It's not quick, easy, nor clean, but it's sure happening.

It can happen with other languages as well.

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