[tlhIngan Hol] Expressing "neutral gender"

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Tue May 28 11:52:54 PDT 2019


For someone who wants to lecture me for making assumptions, you seem to be making a lot of assumptions.

A person using English to talk about an entity needs to know whether that entity is a “he”, a “she”, or an “it”, or you can’t replace the noun with a pronoun, and talking about the entity gets awkward.

A person using Klingon to talk about an entity needs to know whether the entity is a {ghaH} or an {‘oH}, or if there are more than one of them, whether they have {-pu’}, {-Du’}, or {-mey} at the end. If you don’t know the particulars of this, then talking about the entity or entities gets awkward.

A person who speaks Danish similarly needs to know whether the word for an entity is an old word, or a newer, borrowed word. If they don’t know that, then things get awkward. 

If a person wants to write about something in Japanese, they need to know whether to write the name in Hiragana, Katakana, or Kanji, or things get awkward.

If a person speaking French is talking about a noun that isn’t male or female, then they need to know whether the French speaking population classifies that noun as masculine or feminine, or they don’t know whether to use {le} or {la}, and a bunch of other stuff involving helper words and pronunciation and spelling get weird, and talking about the entity gets awkward.

You gave no indication what the relevance is of the alien being male or female or not. I made no reference as to whether a Klingon would culturally feel an interest in the biological sexual category of an alien. As a human using the Klingon language, without any context, I didn’t understand what the interest is in the sexual category of an alien. That’s really it. 

Yes, there have been times when, as part of the joke of using Klingon, I’ve played with the hyper-testosterone cultural thing, but this isn’t one of those times. I was just trying to point out that while speaking English, because of the unusual way that English ties grammatical gender to biological sex classification, you might have a bias pushing to you want to focus on that. I wanted to point out that bias, in case it was something you had not thought about before. It’s one of those things that learning a different language does to expand your brain function. You have to think outside the box a little because each language has a differently shaped box.

Here, on Earth, in America, speaking English, I’ve often wondered what the big deal is about sexual identification and orientation among people who do not specifically intend to have sex with each other. Let people identify with whatever, and have whatever preference they like, so long as they are not trying to involve you or a child who deserves the protection of adults in some kind of act that should require your consent and doesn’t have it. If it doesn’t hurt anybody who doesn’t want to be hurt, let people be happy with themselves and each other.

I’m not saying that the Klingon language lacks sex-based grammatical gender for a reason. It’s completely arbitrary, as is the case in every language. Nothing is “missing” from Klingon in terms of linguistic gender. It’s just different from English, as are most languages.

Do you care if a chair is a boy chair or a girl chair? Or maybe it’s just a chair?

So, how is an alien different from that? There are many life forms that are neither male nor female, or both. Among more complex animal life forms on Earth, it’s significantly less common, but if you include plants and microbes, fungus and slime molds, one has less and less reason to care whether it’s a boy or a girl, in any language.

charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.




> On May 28, 2019, at 1:49 PM, mayqel qunen'oS <mihkoun at gmail.com> wrote:
> 
> Once again, you're addressing a matter on the assumption that someone gives a crap, as to what a klingon would or would not say.
> 
> I used the alien example as an example. The question is "how do we express neutral gender".
> 
> Since I'm not into klingon roleplaying/cosplaying etc, I don't care for the preferences of a fictional race.
> 
> You're trying (again) hard, to promote the image, that "if klingon lacks something, then it's for a reason".
> 
> Klingon vocabulary lacks a lot of things, because it's humanly impossible for someone to create an entire vocabulary from scratch.
> 
> But I can't accept arguments that everything is the way it was supposed to be.
> 
> We all love klingon. But some refuse to blind themselves to the obvious truth, that there are things missing.
> 
> Anyways, I'm tired of all this.
> 
> ~ m. qunen'oS
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> tlhIngan-Hol at lists.kli.org
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