[DWJ] Any number of threads (composite response)

Belben, Philip (Energy Wholesale) Philip.Belben at eon-uk.com
Thu Apr 19 11:48:24 EDT 2007


>> Minnow asked:
>>
>>> Can it be that the mealy-mouthery of saying "gender" instead of
>>> "sex" applies only when distinguishing between the male and the
>>> female of the human species?
> 
> Philip answered:
> 
>> Nope.  Shakespeare used it of the sexual act, between amphibians.
>> Don't ask me where, but something was for them "to knot and gender
>> in".
> 
> Yes, but that was as a verb, "gender-short-for-engender" meaning
> "copulate", not in the sense of "which gender is that person" as
> opposed to "which sex is that person".
> 
>> (And don't even mention electrical connectors...)
>> 
>> Don't tell me they now get called "feminine" and "masculine" instead
>> of "female" and "male"!?

No, they are still "male" and "female", but this is referred to as their
gender, not their sex.

By contrast, we had a German tutor (by which I mean that she was German,
as well as that she taught us German) who referred to grammatical
genders as "male" and "female", which I found rather unsettling.

But my point is, isn't "gender" _always_ short for "engender"?  And
therefore does it not always mean (etymologically anyway) sex?  Maybe to
Shakespeare it was not an example of mealy-mouth, but just as bad as if
he had written "have sex", and he only did it for the rhythm.  But I
doubt it.

Anyway, you asked whether it was used euphemistically only to
distinguish between male and female humans, and I gave you a
counter-example.  Now, if you had asked whether it was used
euphemistically to distinguish between male and female only for humans,
your objection would have been valid...

Philip (who can climb the pedantree with the best of them)

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