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Subject:He/She/They From:"Cheng, Derek" <Cderek -at- GATE-HAL -dot- PSD -dot- SYMBOL -dot- COM> Date:Tue, 31 May 1994 13:26:30 EDT
In Chinese, there are no gender specific pronouns by sound, but there are
in the written form (Hanzi). This occurs in the third person pronouns:
he/she/they. In the pronoun character, the sub-character which means
"person" is replaced with "woman" if the party is female and left as
"person" if a male exists in the group. I'm not sure, but I think this
convention is quite modern and didn't exist in the earlier writings. I'm
also not sure if women simply weren't addressed in the third person or if
it simply didn't matter.
What's interesting, I think, is that Chinese culture is even more
patriarchial than English or US culture. If in fact they only recently
began using the feminine third person, and if they are becoming less
patriarchial (like the rest of the world), then why would they create a
new system to provide gender discrimination?
p.s. The first and second person pronouns are gender neutral like
/ A tail is quite essential for your acrobatic talents
/ You would not be so agile if you lacked its counterbalance.
- Data's "Ode to Spot"