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--- On Thu, 12/17/09, Risto Kupsala <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Many conIALs have gender affixes to
> denote real gender. (I'm not talking
> about grammatical gender of lamps and tables.) Such
> languages are usually
> created by people whose native language makes such
> distinction. So gender
> affixes result from their bias.
> 
> Yet I wonder how important affixed real gender (for example
> -a for female
> and -o for male) is for speakers of gender languages. Could
> some of the
> speakers of gender languages answer that? Is it a very
> desirable feature
> in a conIAL for you? (At least it keeps coming up in new
> and old conIALs.)
> 
The more modern the users are, the less it matters. If you're a shepherd, it's not enough to say "sheep"; you'll want to know whether it's male or female. You can see this in the Bible, where, for example, you can find references to "male and female camels." To the best of my knowledge, there is no sex-specific word for camels in English; you have to use "male" or "female." A camel-wrangler might find this awkward.

There are cultural aspects as well: proper male and female roles vary by culture, and in some cases you should be very specific whether a male or female is involved.

The matter doesn't occur that often, but it can be very important or useful: one of the advantages of Ido's pronoun system is that non-personal pronouns (e.g., demonstratives) can be made masculine or feminine, which in narratives can be very useful.

We have a gamut of responses: separate words (ewe/ram), affixes (Eo/Ido), or ignoring the matter. There should be a short, predictable way to make the distinction, but I don't think I'd use an ending as the Iaclones do. Probably an affix is the best way to acknowledge those for whom it's important without annoying those for whom it isn't, though Occ and Novial aren't that obtrusive.

Steve