gender voice variants

John Cowan cowan at
Thu Dec 20 19:03:37 CET 2012

Michael Everson scripsit:

> For the purposes of this discussion, in order to avoid terminological
> confusion, could we please agree that words have gender, and human
> beings have sex?

Alas, that train left the station back in the 1970s.  Human beings have
sex, a biological property; they also have a cultural, non-biological
property called gender.  This conflicts with the established use in
linguistics, but so be it.  (There are two books named simply _Gender_,
with different authors, on these two subject matters.)

Biological sex is irrelevant to this discussion.

Grammatical gender is only relevant insofar as it reflects the gender
of speakers or listeners.  In Lojban, nouns are divided into seventeen
genders for purposes of pronoun agreement, but there is no connection
with human gender at all.

What matters is how the (personal) gender of listeners and speakers
affects what is said.  It has already been shown that it does affect it
in all languages, though the degree varies.  I believe it's therefore
appropriate to encode it within, rather than just alongside, the language
variety system.

So, there are two issues:

1) Are we to encode these sociolects, or whatever you want to call them,
using our language tagging scheme?

2) If so, what are we to encode?

I propose that we have four tags spkrmale, spkrfeml, targmale, targfeml.

A mosquito cried out in his pain,               John Cowan
"A chemist has poisoned my brain!"    
        The cause of his sorrow                 cowan at
        Was para-dichloro-
Diphenyltrichloroethane.                                (aka DDT)

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