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On 5/25/10, Jens Wilkinson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> On Sun, May 23, 2010 at 1:51 AM, steve rice <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>
>>  And bear in mind how false a simplistic Whorfian view can be: Japanese
>> does not have gender as such, but has the society that generated and used
>> it been particularly fair to women?
>
> Who told you that? I mean about gender. Do you think Japanese has no
> gender? The main 3rd person singular pronouns used for people are
> "kare" (he) and "kanojo" (she). And they are used just as they are in
> English, so for a group of boys and girls together you would say
> "kare-ra" (plural of he).

They are used as in English (or western languages) because they were
made to do so in imitation of those languages:

彼の(that)女(female) Originally, created as an equivalent to female
pronouns in European languages. Can also mean girlfriend. --
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_pronouns

The plural of kare, karera (彼ら), may also refer to groups of females,
and is preferable to the rather demeaning kanojo-tachi 彼女達 ("those
women"). Gender neutral language modification advocates suggest
avoiding karera by instead using "those people" (あの人達, ano
hito-tachi), which they praise as gender neutral, grammatical and
natural-sounding. It should be noted though that until the Meiji
Restoration in the 19th century, kare (彼) was used for both genders;
kanojo (彼女) meant "girlfriend", as it still does. --
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutrality_in_genderless_languages#Japanese

You hear about this sort of thing when you get into sociolinguistics.
Japanese pronouns and women's language are standard topics, just as
any introductory discussion of phonetics and phonemics will touch on
aspirating initial voiceless stops.

It's only when it's all girls that you would
> use "kanojo-ra". And in any case, I'm not sure, how do the Japanese
> treat women?
>
Historically, Japan has been no better than the West in its treatment
of women; if there were a connection between gender-neutrality and
fairness toward women, the Japanese would've had equal rights for
women long before the West. So there is no correlation between gender
neutrality and equal rights.

Steve