How’s Trix?

Continuing a vague theme about gender in language, I want to look a little at the few gendered words we have in English.

I mentioned recently that actor/actress is still a distinction we often make. There’s waiter/waitress too. And that’s basically it.

There are some specifically female forms that have relatively recently fallen out of favour. Stewardess and manageress, for example. Generally though, we’ve been content to use gender-neutral terms.

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He/She/It: They all Float Down Here

I saw IT last week, only it was actually Ça, considering I saw it in a cinema in Liège. English-language films are generally dubbed here, but as it was a somewhat arty cinema, they were proud to offer the VO (version originale) with French and Dutch subtitles. Having two sets of subtitles taking up space on the screen is quite distracting, but it’s an interesting opportunity to compare English, French, and Dutch at the same time.

Watching a film with subtitles in a language you know is always a little odd, as they never translate things exactly, largely because such a thing is basically impossible. Even so, there are always one or two choices the subtitler makes which boggle the mind. I don’t recall anything like that in this case, but there was one necessary difference in translation that intrigued me.

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“Grab them by the…”

…hand? Or, whatever you want really, but again, like yesterday, you can imagine that I’m thinking of something else. Because yesterday I got a good firm grasp of how we use synonyms for penises as insults, now I want to do the same thing from a female perspective. Well, not really from a female perspective I suppose.

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International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! I did think a little about whether it was appropriate to wish one a happy International Women’s Day, seeing as there’s still a lot of work being done around the world to secure women’s rights in a variety of areas. But I think today should be a day for celebration, as well as reflection and protest, so happy International Women’s Day! In honour of the day, I’ve decided to take a look at the word woman, and a little bit at how we gender language. And I hope you won’t accuse of mansplaining: I’m just doing what I usually do, just with a feminine focus today (and I’m observing A Day Without a Woman, so who else could I get to do it!). Continue reading