LINGUIST List 7.531

Wed Apr 10 1996

Disc: Grammatical gender and feminism, Gender switching

Editor for this issue: Ann Dizdar <>


  1. "Jurij R. Lotoshko", Disc: Grammatical gender and feminism
  2., RE: 7.484, Misc: Ungrammatical sentences, Gender switching

Message 1: Disc: Grammatical gender and feminism

Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 11:42:09 +0400
From: "Jurij R. Lotoshko" <>
Subject: Disc: Grammatical gender and feminism
Disc: Grammatical gender and feminism">Public response to the list

 The reason of discussion "Grammatical gender & feminism" has
caused in my memory one characters from the Gribojedov's play
'Gorje ot uma' ("Trouble from mind", A.Gribojedov is Russian
writer -- 1794-1824), which offered "to collect all books and
 Language is such substation, which does not suffer violence.
Language accepts only the fact, that it is necessary for the
people, which on it speaks, which uses it for communications.
 Category of gender is one of the most remarkabl, wonderful
grammatical categories in Slavic language. The category of gender
is connected with the grammatical category
animateness/unanimateness (about it already was marked in
discussion on example of italian language and see 'The
Gender-Animacy Hypothesis' JSL 3(1): 13-58, 1995).
 However in discussion not yet spoke about factor of
development and continuity of language (recoll sanskrit, latin,
ancient greek).
 In Russian language, as well as in majority of other Slavic
languages, exists three grammatical genders - masc., fem. and
neuter. Besides that, in Russian language there are words of a
general(common) gender, that are words, which can correspond to
man and to female (starosta, nerjaha, grjaznulja, prostofilja and
 'ommon for slavs words in different Slavic languages can con-
cern to different gender, for example the word 'knjaz' in Russian
language is a word of a masc. gender, and in Chechen language
'knize' is included into special category words of neuter gender.
 In Russian language words of neuter gender have not a gramma-
tical category animateness. In Chechen language the category ani-
mateness is conected only with masc. gender, and when I speak
girl-students, that in Chechen language they are understood as
unanimateness objects, it causes only some fun. The grammatic ca-
tegories of gender and animateness not influence of beauty and ap-
peal Czech girls and women.
 In Russian language from point of grammar the word "pokojnik"
('dead person') is perceived as animateness object, and word
"trup" ('corpse') as unanimateness. Both words are masc. gender.
 The grammatical category of gender in Russian language on
speech level can be displayed differently. Thus necessary to take
into account specific situations, factors, determining the act of
the communications. Not the expert of native language or foreigner
can note these facts, and not correctly to interpete them.
 For example, take a usual situation - doctor is woman
 The patient in dialogue can say:
 'vypisal lekarstva' (has made out medicines) - it meants that
 the official position of the given
 woman in society is on the first
 'vypisala lekarstva' - it meants that sexual attribute on the
 first place and plus other means.
 As seem, the switching of a grammatic gender in Russion
depends on that, if we want to emphasize the social status or
sexual attribute.
 In Chechen language social referens and referens sexual
attribute can be fixed on level of derivation, for example, in
Chechen language there are word filolog(he)) and filolozjka(she).
In Russian language also exists such derivatoin model (noga --
nozjka), but it does not allow format the words of a female gender
with attribute of the person from words of a masc. gender. In
Russion word 'filolog' can used in situation as in English --
'She/He good filolog'. And when I name(call) girl-students
'filolozjkami', -- it causes them laughter. The fact, that is
allowable in one language, is inadmissible in other.
 In Russian linguistics there are many publications connected
with history of development and functioning this wondeful
grammatical category of gender as on the level of standartized
language, that and the level of oral speech (spooken Russion) and
on the level of dialects (govor) 'krasivyj polotenec'(stand.--
'krasivoje polotence' (beautiful towel).
 So, '2 kopejki' is historizm and 'sto rublej n'e den'gi'
(= one hundred rubles is not money).

pr. Chajkovskego, 70
Tver university
Faculty of Russian language
Lotoshko Jurij Rostislavovic
The candidate of philological sciences,
senior lecturer

Home ad.

b. Shmidta d. 47. kv. 84
Lotoshko J.R.

P.S. Pay attention to accepted order of lines in Russion address,
 it can serve as object of discussion for sociolingvists and
P.P.S. The text was transformed from Russion to English by computer
 program, so... excuse me for my and computers mistakes.
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Message 2: RE: 7.484, Misc: Ungrammatical sentences, Gender switching

Date: Wed, 03 Apr 1996 09:17:26 GMT
From: <>
Subject: RE: 7.484, Misc: Ungrammatical sentences, Gender switching
about gender switching, which i am calling cross-addressing in a paper
that i will be givning at the colloquium on arabic grammar and
linguistics at university of edinburgh in august, it is found in
egyptain colloquial arabic, or at least in the cairene varieities,
probably elsewhere in egypt too.

reverse gender reference is used in addressing children of either sex
and it is used among adults as a means of establishing, mmaintaining
and expressing initmacy; in protecting or concealing the identity of
the referee or the referent; in banter with same-sex cohorts; and in
coarse joking about members of the opposite sex. it looks like the
phenomenon has its origin in baby talk. some women informants
maintain that they use it amongst themselves deliberately to level the
status differences between men and women.

according to correspondents,the same thing occurs in modern hebrew, at least
where expressing intimacy is concerned.

david wilmsen
director, arabic and translation studies division
center for adult and continuing education
american university in cairo
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