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At 15:35 29/1/98, Donald J. HARLOW wrote:
>Je 03:21 ptm 1/29/98 -0500, Robin GASKELL skribis:
>
>>        But the example of an absence of sophistication in language, that
>I can
>>attest to, is the absence of differentiated male and female pronouns in
>>Persian and in Chinese.  I have discussed the lack of a he/she difference
>>with people from both of these language groups.  Both the Assyrian and
>>Chinese civilisations
>>are older than the one which produced the English language, but this lack
>>of gender differentiation seems, to me, to be more "primitive", or "less
>>evolved", than the situation in English where we can tell whether it is he
>>or she.
[......]
>
>Now I may be accused of the vile crime of "cultural relativism" by asking
>this,
 
Not by me, you won't.
 
>but how is a _linguistic_ capability of distinguishing male from
>female in an utterance particularly more sophisticated than simply
>recognizing everybody as human?
 
ABSOLUTELY!!
 
Thanks, Don, for responding to this before I did.
 
I was so taken back by this unbelievable piece of bigotted Anglocentric
nonsense*, which seems to me excessive even by Robin's standards.  I agree
100% with Don and commend him for the restraint of his reply.
 
[* "civilisations are older than the one which produced the English language"]
 
>(I would not argue that it is _less_ sophisticated, however...)
 
Me, too.  Robin mentions Persian.  What he fails to mention is that Persian
is an IndoEuropean lang and in earlier times _did_ exhibit this (less
sophisticated) necessity to mark the sex of humans whenever they were
mentioned.  The modern language has dispensed with this outdated mode of
expression.
 
>I am not willing to believe that all of Chinese,
>Persian, Hungarian, Finnish, Turkish (I think)
 
Yes, you're right about Turkish & the other Turkic langs.
 
>and who knows what others
 
The Bantulangs, Japanese, Polynesian - oh, and most langs except
IndoEuropean & Semitic -
 
>are primitive or less evolved simply because they don't have this
>particular feature that English does.
 
Of course they're not.  In my book it's either ignorance or bigotry (or
both) that could make one think thus.
 
>(Also, what does Persion have to do with the Assyrian civilization, which
>was in a slightly different part of the world?)
 
Slightly!
 
The Assyrians were _Semitic_ peoples; the Semitic langs not only always
mark humans as male or female, but conventially divide up all creation into
"masculine" or "feminine" objects in a similar way to the modern
Romancelangs & Celticlangs.  The Persians, as I said, spoke & still speak
an IE language but - alone, I believe, of IE langs - they have dropped this
IMO outmoded behavior.
 
<sigh>
I've had to drop one sentence from my new sig.  But, sorry, such bigotted
nonsense is more than I can take.
 
Ray.
 
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Written in Net English
Humor not necessarily marked
No intentional misreprsentation of another's statements
 
Gerasko d'aei polla didaskomenos (SOLON)
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