Sorry, I am a stickler…

19Apr11

I was taught (or at least I learned) that the word gender was a grammatical category and not a synonym for sex, i.e., male or female.  Thus,  “puella” (girl) , for example  is of the female gender in the Latin language (puella ends in the letter A, a feminine ending. while puer is masculine for boy…  So far so good. 

Sometime in the last 20 years the  feminists (another suspect word) co-opted gender  dubious phrase – co-opted) and today its recent usage refers to a supporter of women’s rights, equality, etc.  Fowler must be spinning in his grave.   

Fowler says this:  (from the second edition):  gender, n., is a grammatical term only. To talk of persons  or creatures  of the masculine or feminine gender, meaning of the male or female sex is either a jocularity (permissable or not according to context) or a blunder.

So there!  So asking someone  his or her gender is akin to asking what declension they are. 

For those of you who have forgotten your 3rd year Latin, here are the declensions:

http://www.math.osu.edu/~econrad/lang/ln.html

Think of today’s blog as an opportunity to reminisce about the junior year Latin classes when you wrote love letters to sweethearts in Latin! Sic!

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