lundi 22 novembre 2010

Grammar experts needed for pope comment on condoms

Blog Reuter


Male prostitutes? Did Pope Benedict actually say that only male prostitutes can use condoms to avoid transmitting the HIV virus? Why did he limit this unsuspected flexibility only to men?

Well, it’s not actually clear from the new book Light of the World, where this statement appears, that he is only talking about male prostitutes. [...]

The problem is that the pope gave the interview in his native German [...]. The key phrase about condom use reads in the English translation: “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be the first step in the direction of a moralisation.”

In German, Benedict says “ein Prostituierter,” which signifies a prostitute of the masculine gender. This could refer literally to a man. But he could also be using the grammatical masculine gender, the default when speaking about any human individual in general. [...]. Benedict could have made himself clearer by expressly saying “male prostitute” — “ein männlicher Prostituierter” — but he didn’t. [...]

The English translator got around this by adding the adjective “male.” The French translator was able to follow the German example and write “un prostitué” in the masculine gender rather than “une prostituée.” But Italian grammar apparently doesn’t allow such an easy switch, so the Vatican daily referred to “una prostituta” in the feminine gender.

samedi 6 novembre 2010

New technology but...

REFLEXARIUM 'French Gender' is an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad application presented as a "personal French tutor" to help learners to memorize the gender of 1300 French nouns. The idea, concept and realization of this app are good but the content is still THE SAME GOOD OLD CRAP about gender. The all issue is again reduced to a mere list of endings!

In this app, words are arranged by endings, the usual (wrong) way to present the problem. One of the examples in the Youtube demo is the group of nouns with ending –a.

The app tells you that “normally, the gender for nouns ending with –A would be male” which is absolutely correct, though it does not tell you why. In the quiz to help you memorize the gender of these -A ending words, you will be ask to guess their gender at random. Every time you run into a feminine noun, you will be told that “this noun is an exception and is female.”

You are supposed to repeat the quizz again and again until you remember the gender of all the nouns from the list without knowing why and how. Why some -A ending nouns are male and some other female? You will never find out. Is it going to help you find the gender of nouns outside the pre-installed list? The answer is no. Just learn stupidement like a parrot !!!!

Here are some of the words from the app:

EXTRA, COBRA, SAMBA, CAMELIA, GHEISHA, CHOLERA, PIZZA, DELTA, CAMERA, CORRIDA, SCHEMA, SALSA, AGENDA, GHEISHA, ARMADA, OPERA, VERANDA, CODA, MAGMA, BOA, COBRA

GHEISHA (the correct spelling is actually GEISHA) and COBRA are repeated twice.

CODA ? I did not know the meaning of that word before I looked into the dictionary. How usefull! Anyway, here is not the issue.

In this application, what are the options?

Choice : masculine VS feminine

Answers : correct VS wrong

Explanations: follows the rule VS exceptions to the rule

This is where all the ENDING PATTERN METHODS fail. They don't provide any reasonable explanation. They are very poor in term of content and feedback given to learners.


Now, see how a CATEGORY BASED METHOD would deal with the same list of words.

Judge for yourself

If we arrange those exact same words into categories following the cause of the gender attribution, we will understand why some are male when some are female. This will help us find the gender of words outside that list.

Category 1.

Unmarked nouns are male (nouns not marked with a final –e), thus nouns ending in –A are male: un EXTRA, le CHOLERA, un SCHEMA, un DELTA, un AGENDA, du MAGMA, un BOA, un COBRA. We can call them regular. Here are included nouns zith suffix –IA used to name flower plants such as un CAMELIA

Category 2.

Loanwords from other romance languages (Italian, Spanish, Portuguese or even Latin) which are still bearing their original feminine marker –A, remain female in French: une SAMBA, une PIZZA, une CAMERA(Latin), une CORRIDA, une SALSA, une ARMADA, une VERANDA, une CODA (One exception though, OPERA, female in Italian, but male in French) Most of these nouns have strong Mediterranean and South-American cultural/political/social connotations.

Category 3.

Natural gender bearing nouns: GEISHA is feminine (une geisha) due to its meaning not to its ending. Referring to a woman, the noun GEISHA is naturally feminine. For the same reason, YAKUSA is male.

Knowing these 3 categories 1) regular (including botanical suff. -ia) 2) romance loanwords 3) natural gender, it is possible to guess the gender of other nouns ending in -a:

Time for practice...

yoga - acacia - Canada - diva - coma - corrida - cinéma - mafia - gardénia - maharaja - salsa - tata - panda - papa - villa - dahlia - fiesta - magnolia - eczéma - cafétéria - pacha - chipolata - guérilla - lama - nana - Panama - favela - karma - pizzéria - pétunia - pasta - zona

Choose a category for each noun and give the corresponding gender:

1. Regular masculine nouns :....................................................

Including suffix -ia (name of plants) :..............................................

2. Natural gender:

Men:............................................

Women:........................................

3. Romance loanwords:.....................................................................


The answer will be given in the next post.

MAUVAIS GENRE the website