samedi 10 juillet 2010

Gender non-sens

I wish I could answer Cenobite questions about the use of having genders in languages...

What one could venture to say is that a language reflects a specific culture and the vision of the surrounding world that its people have.

Through gender, we can see that English has a strong "human vs. non-human" vision of the environment. Humans are treated as very special entities in this environment (he/she vs. it). On one side, human beings and eventually some animals strongly connected to them, and on the other side, the rest of the universe (Not a very well balanced split).

Does knowing that English is "human-centered" tell us anything about how English speakers see the world or society? I wish I knew.

French splits the surrounding world into female and male entities disregarding their human or non-human nature or even their living or non-living nature. French applies to non-human entities the same rule it uses to differentiate men from women. (girls, ants, shoes and sciences all belong to the same female side). At least in French, the whole content of the Universe is split into two equal parts. What does that mean or tell us about French speakers vision of the world and society?

Could it be that there is a link between the linguistic and sociological vision of the outside world? Let's pretend there is...

English society is a communitarian society (foreigners are given the opportunity and even encouraged to live their foreign-way of life inside the Kingdom) where as French society is an integrative society (Foreigners are given the opportunity or, should I say, are strongly advised to live the French way and give up their foreign way of life on the French territory). On one side of the Channel, foreigners and locals live side by side but separate lives (English vs non-English), and on the other side of la Manche, foreigners are integrated, merged whether they like it or not, with the French, just like in the case of gender : humans, animals, things, concept, ideas...all mixed together as one, no as two : masculine and feminine.

This does not make much sense, right? In French we say: C'est tiré par les cheveux. Don't blame me. I told you from the start: Gender non-sens.

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