LINGUIST List 2.487

Tue 10 Sep 1991

Disc: ProfesseurE Part 1

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  1. , Re: 2.481 Responses: French, in case
  2. Ellen Prince, Re: 2.483 Professeure
  3. bert peeters, ProfesseurE
  4. bert peeters, ProfesseurE

Message 1: Re: 2.481 Responses: French, in case

Date: Tue, 10 Sep 91 15:17:45 +0100
From: <mesuzuka.u-strasbg.fr>
Subject: Re: 2.481 Responses: French, in case
I wouldn't dream of infringing on a venerable usage (at least 4 or 5 years old)
 but the whole point of Madame LE Premier Ministre et al is that one should
 consider Premier Ministre, resp Professeur, as NOT implying a gender, viz that
 it can be and *is* actually a function occupied by a woman. Let us leave it to
 the Quebecquois to decide whether they still prefer their way of putting
 things. And whether it be a question of "fairness" or plain linguistic feeling
 for a language.
Michel Eytan
Univ. Strasbourg II
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Message 2: Re: 2.483 Professeure

Date: Mon, 09 Sep 91 23:44:11 -0400
From: Ellen Prince <ellencentral.cis.upenn.edu>
Subject: Re: 2.483 Professeure
>Date: Tue, 10 Sep 91 09:39:02 EST
>From: j.guytrl.oz.au (Jacques Guy)
>Subject: Professeure
>If some wish to indulge in that exercise, so be it. But let
>them go the whole hog, and not butcher the language in the
>process. So here:
>
> Female Male
>
> la vigie le vigien (model: Felicie, Felicien)
> la sentinelle le sentineau
> l'estafette l'estafet
> l'ordonnance l'ordonnanc (model: la France, le franc)
> la vache le vac (model: blanche, blanc)
> la cogne le coing (model: la pogne, le poing)
> la hyene le hyen
> l'antilope l'antilaud (model: salope, salaud)
>
>A votre tour maintenant.
ok, i can't resist anymore. how about:
 la personne le person (model: la bretonne, le breton)
or would that be rejected because it looked like english?
in a (slightly) more serious vein, those who say that french is 'fairer' than
english in worrying about feminine forms have a particular view of fairness.
english feminine forms like authoress and sculptress and even actress have
been discarded by many in favor of author, sculptor, actor, etc., as
sex-neutral terms. i believe the feeling is that, if one acts seriously (for
example), one wants to be called an actor, not a special case thereof.
here, by the way, is an excellent illustration of how nice it would be if
gender still meant gender, i.e. noun class. one could then say that le
professeur was masculine gender but could denote an individual of either
sex, just as la personne is feminine gender but (...) either sex, just as
la table is feminine gender but (...) no sex. oh well.
p.s. jacques, what would you do for the poor husband of madame la souris?
that's a toughie, n'est-ce pas?
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Message 3: ProfesseurE

Date: Tue, 10 Sep 91 15:42:08 EST
From: bert peeters <peeterstasman.cc.utas.edu.au>
Subject: ProfesseurE
> Date: Sun, 8 Sep 91 16:56:11 -0500
> From: "Michael Kac" <kaccs.umn.edu>
> Subject: Re: Professeure/470
>
> A purely linguistic question about *professeure*: why isn't it
> *professeuse*, on analogy to *chanteuse*, *masseuse*, etc.?
chanteuse = personne de sexe fe'minin qui chante
masseuse = personne de sexe fe'minin qui masse
idem for coiffeuse/menteuse etc
professeuRE =/= personne de sexe fe'minin qui professe
auteuRE - ??? (no verb available)
This is maybe not THE explanation, but it is the one that comes to mind.
I'm prepared to accept there will be exceptions.
Another fact, the -eure formations are recent; the -eur/-rice opposition
seems to work where there has traditionally always been a gender contrast
but with no verb available (unless after morphological alterations):
directeur - directrice = personne qui *directe / dirige
> An etymological question: My recollection is that it was at least once
> the practice in France to use *professeur* to refer to a teacher in a
> lyce'e. Is that still true? And if so, how does one handle talking about
> female teachers in such establishments?
>
> I had a year of public education in Geneva, where the word for a teacher,
> at least at the grade school level, was *maitre* or *maitresse* depending
> on sex. Is this still so?
Mai^tre and mai^tresse are used in primary schools, professeur from secondary
schools onward (lyce'e, colle`ge, universite'). In standard French, female
secondary school and college teachers are referred to as "professeur-femme"
or "femme professeur" or simply "professeur".
Dr Bert Peeters Tel: +61 02 202344
Department of Modern Languages 002 202344
University of Tasmania at Hobart Fax: 002 202186
GPO Box 252C Bert.Peetersmodlang.utas.edu.au
Hobart TAS 7001
Australia
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Message 4: ProfesseurE

Date: Tue, 10 Sep 91 16:00:18 EST
From: bert peeters <peeterstasman.cc.utas.edu.au>
Subject: ProfesseurE
> Date: Mon, 9 Sep 91 11:43:49 EST
> From: j.guytrl.oz.au (Jacques Guy)
> Subject: ProfesseurE
>
> Neologisms such as "la professeure" strike me not only as against the
> grain of the language (since the general pattern is -eur/-euse, less
> frequently -eur/-rice), but above all as an ill-advised borrowing from
> English.
> Date: Tue, 10 Sep 91 09:39:02 EST
> From: j.guytrl.oz.au (Jacques Guy)
> Subject: Professeure
>
> Neologisms such as "la professeure" are strange, nay,
> foreign.
>
> First, "professeure" goes straight again the grain of the
> language, for the general patterns are -eur/-euse (danseur,
> danseuse), -eur/-oresse (docteur, doctoresse), and
> -eur/-rice (acteur, actrice).
Against the grain of the language? Maybe - but at least there seems to be
some kind of logic behind it (see my other posting on the topic).
Strange? Ditto.
Foreign? An ill-advised borrowing from English? I don't see in what way.
Jacques Guy's proposals towards a more transparent morphology in French
are exactly what he calls them: a farce. Nobody could ever take them
seriously - unless we want to look as well at pairs such as *pe`re -
me`re*, *coq - poule* and defigure the French language in the process.
Dr Bert Peeters Tel: +61 02 202344
Department of Modern Languages 002 202344
University of Tasmania at Hobart Fax: 002 202186
GPO Box 252C Bert.Peetersmodlang.utas.edu.au
Hobart TAS 7001
Australia
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