LINGUIST List 25.2266

Thu May 22 2014

Qs: Words for 'he' and 'she'

Editor for this issue: Alex Isotalo <>

Date: 22-May-2014
From: Bernard Comrie <>
Subject: Words for 'he' and 'she'
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I am posting this message on behalf of Liliane Lijn, an artist who has a linguistic question but does not have access to the LinguistList.

Liliane is interested in collecting words for 'he' and 'she' in as many languages as possible where the written form of the word for 'he' is properly included in the word for 'she', or vice versa. Since this will lead to a visual presentations, the forms should be written forms using the standard orthography of written languages. Thus, languages using a non-Roman script will be presented in their own script. For languages that distinguish upper and lower case, the representations should be in block capitals. Thus, English HE and SHE would illustrate the word 'he' properly included in the word for 'she', while Lithuanian JIS and JI would represent the opposite. Spanish √Čl and ELLA would not satisfy the criteria, since the former has a diacritic absent from the latter, the latter has two letters absent from the former. But a language where, say, the only difference between written expressions for 'he' and 'she' was an umlaut on the vowel in one of the two words would count. Languages that use the same written expression for both 'he' and 'she' fall outside the project.

If you send me examples of the words for 'he' and 'she' that meet the criteria, I will forward the information to Liliane and make it publicly accessible. If possible, please send me the words, in the original script and in block capitals if relevant, using Unicode; in the case of special symbols, an accompanying pdf will help.

A short description of the overall project from Liliane follows:

''I am an artist and often work on the edge between image and language. Please feel free to view my website
moonmeme is a project that I have been working on for some years. It involves projecting the feminine pronoun SHE onto the surface of the moon where the motions of the earth, sun and moon will change its meaning over one lunation. I am at present unable to do this in reality on the moon but I have done it as a virtual projection online. I would very much like to do this in as many languages as possible.''

Linguistic Field(s): Lexicography

Page Updated: 22-May-2014