Dienstag, 19. März 2013

gendery words and wordy gender

I believe that years ago, I wrote on this blog about speaking a masculine Swiss-German. My teacher, after all, is a fella.
This morning I went down to the basement for a demonstration of the top-modern washer-dryer in our basement. Despite the fact that one of the people who work at home here is a man, the basement was full of the female neighbors. This pissed me off. Ivo is typically responsible for laundry in our house, but Ivo isn't here. As a control freak, I feel responsible for everything, so new or extra responsibilities make me cranky. I wasn't looking forward to this demo.
As soon as it began, I realized that I'd never really truly used the Swiss-German words for laundry. Not properly at least;"Kochwasch" for example. Not only that, but female speech in Swiss-German uses far more words in the diminutive. They have special words for wrinkly clothes,  the filth that builds up in the washer, the residue that builds up in the detergent dispenser the, the filth that builds up on the rubber lip around the dryer door.

In class the other day, one of my students said that "cats are more lady-like and dogs are more like men." When I asked why he thought for a long time and said, "Yeah because 'die cat and der dog'."
"I see," I said. "But in English, it's the cat and the dog." "And if I want to ask about him or her?" he asked. I explained that, if we can't tell the gender straight away, then we refer to it as an it. The student then had no answer for why dogs are male and cats are female. "But that feels right, yeah?" he asked. And it does. It feels right.
Bridges feel female to me. Spiders too. I remember the moment when bees stopped being male in my mind and became female. I'm so excited about my new class full of absolute beginners. Gonna bring them a whole universe of neuter. 

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