[tlhIngan Hol] Expressing "neutral gender"

Will Martin willmartin2 at mac.com
Tue May 28 14:48:53 PDT 2019


> On May 28, 2019, at 1:55 PM, SuStel <sustel at trimboli.name> wrote:
> 
> On 5/28/2019 1:32 PM, Will Martin wrote:
>> Unless you are planning on having sex with an alien, why would you care if it were male or female or neither?
> To direct them to the correct bathroom?
> 
Assuming they’d use a bathroom.
> To buy the right sort of clothing as a gift?
> 
Assuming that sex identity is the thing an alien would use to gravitate toward a particular type of clothing.
> To correctly recommend either a urologist or gynecologist?
> 
Assuming that such doctors would know the physiology of an alien.
> Any number of other reasons that might come up?
> 
> 
Each one of the things you brought up could be answered specifically with much more clarity than expecting one generic answer to work for all of them. Yes, in English, one answer would work for all of them, except perhaps in countries where men and women wear similar clothing and it’s more important to know their class status, like how it used to be illegal to wear purple unless you were in the royal family, etc.

Hermione’s robe looked a lot like Harry’s robe. Size was more important than sexual gender.

>> Some trees are considered male and others of its species female, but unless you are seeking fertile fruit, most people never bother to figure out whether a tree is a he or a she.
> Because in English trees are never he or she; they're always it, regardless of their sexual properties.
> 
[whiny voice] Yes, but sometimes it’s REALLY IMPORTANT to know whether a tree is a boy or a girl.

>> Klingon doesn’t have sexually classified gender like English does. Most languages don’t.
> English only has biological gender in its singular third-person pronouns, it only applies to some cases of biological sex, and it has no kind of gender agreement. The only way you could say that most language don't have the sort of gender that English has is to say that most languages have more extensive gender systems. Modern English effectively has no gender.
> 
Well said. Thank you. I had not thought about that. Gender agreement is nearly missing in clusters of words. Number agreement is a bigger deal. Still, there are the pronouns, and dictionaries are rife with sexual gender associated with specific nouns.

>> Gender can have all kinds of categorization systems, like marking the difference between old words vs. newer words borrowed from some other language. Klingon gender has to do with marking the difference between beings capable of using language, body parts, and everything else. Biological sex role has nothing to do with it.
>> 
>> So, in Klingon, you’d be less interested in noting that it wasn’t male or female (since there is no “he” or “she” or “it” to use as the pronoun when discussing the alien), but instead, you’d be trying to figure out whether it used language.
> And yet there are still situations in which you want to express the biological sex of someone or something, so there should be a way to do it, and you should be able to discuss it.
> 
> (There are a couple of extreme cases of gender in English. For instance, some maintain that the difference between blond and blonde is as in French: the -e makes the adjective feminine, and should be used when referring to blond(e) women. Others maintain that this distinction belongs to French, not English, and that blond should be used for all people with this color hair.)
> 
> Back to the original question: sorry, I can't think of a better way to say neuter than to say be' 'oHbe'; loD 'oHbe' or variations thereof.
> 
Yes, but they are ALIENS. They OBVIOUSLY are not men or women, even if they ARE male or female.

That’s why I picked {rur} instead of a pronoun, since we know from describing colors and such that {rur} is used when you are comparing an aspect of something to another thing, even when the things themselves are not generally similar.

Thanks again for bringing up stuff I hadn’t thought of. Learning French, the gender thing was pushed so hard and compared to English in ways that didn’t, for my high school and college mind, make me fully reflect on all the ways that English doesn’t mark gender.

Except when it does.
> -- 
> SuStel
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charghwI’ vaghnerya’ngan

rInpa’ bomnIS be’’a’ pI’.


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