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adjective

0
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When using one adjective to describe a masculine and feminine noun, does the gender of the adjective default to the last one in word order? e.g. "doctrinas y maestros falsos" or "maestros y doctrinas falsas"

2400 views
updated OCT 17, 2008
posted by ray2

12 Answers

1
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Obvious? Are you insulting me, or mixing concepts?

James, Spanish surely evolved under the influence of a strong cultural sexism, but as a language it is just a communicative convention, and many genders are just random. I am not sexist when I use genders, and I don't intend to, but that's the way the grammatical system works, and if it was the other way around (i.e. groups were expressed using the feminine gender), I would use it exactly the same. People should stop mixing gender and sex, because they are not the same, and start looking for "sexism" where there is sex, i.e. in people.

If you call a man "una persona", is that sexist too? Please, be serious. Nouns and adjectives don't have sexes: they have genders. And languages are not sexist: people are!!! If we begin to mistake cause and effect, we'd end up changing the language to avoid "genderism" (since it cannot be sexist), and burning all the literature that it is our "sexist" past writers' heritage.

You can be extremely sexist even if you avoid using the plural masculine for political reasons, and you can be a non-sexist person using the masculine plural to refer to a collective. They have nothing to do. Sexism is about the way you think and treat others, not about the conventional ending of words.

:

sexist (actions based on) the belief that the members of one sex are less intelligent, able, skilful, etc. than the members of the other sex, especially that women are less able than men. © Cambridge University Press

If I say "Esa mujer es la más lista de todos en el grupo", I am referring to the group using the masculine GENDER, but I am saying that she, the only girl, is the best. How is this compatible with the belief that women are less inteligent, etc.'

updated AGO 30, 2013
posted by lazarus1907
1
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No, the rule is that if one masculine noun is included, the adjective is masculine plural.

updated FEB 6, 2010
posted by 00bacfba
1
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OK....so what's the right answer'? masculine plural or masuline singular, or none of the above'

updated FEB 6, 2010
posted by ray2
1
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Men can de described with feminine nouns too. Gender is a grammatical property that has nothing to do with sexes or machistas.

Ho! Says the man!

At the risk of starting another mini-war, I think that is preposterous. Gender in Spanish is absolutely sexist. Do you really think that if Spain had been a matriarchal society, the language would have favored the masculine form so much? That we would says "los padres" for "the parents"? "Mis hijos" for "my children"? And so on?

Men have been in power for so long that machismo has become embedded in our lives, and not just in the Spanish world. It's only more apparent in Spanish because gender plays a larger role in that language.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not some flaming feminist. But let's at least acknowledge sexism when it is obvious.

updated FEB 6, 2010
posted by 00bacfba
1
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Ray...we are absolutely machistas in this country...if there is only one single masculine noun: the adjective automatically takes the masculine.

updated FEB 6, 2010
posted by 00494d19
1
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Heidita said:

Ray...we are absolutely machistas in this country...if there is only one single masculine noun: the adjective automatically takes the masculine.

Heidi, please:

Yo soy una buena persona, una desgraciada víctima,... y un hombre.

Men can de described with feminine nouns too. Gender is a grammatical property that has nothing to do with sexes or machistas.

updated FEB 6, 2010
posted by lazarus1907
0
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James Santiago said:

English also has some sexist conventions. We more often use "he" to refer to a person of unknown gender, we call humans "man" and "mankind,"
OED: First entry for 'man' (as a noun)
I. 1. A human being (irrespective of sex or age); = L. homo. In OE. the prevailing sense.
? a. In many OE. instances, and in a few of later date, used explicitly as a designation equally applicable to either sex. Obs.
In OE. the words distinctive of sex were wer and wíf, wæpman and wífman.

updated OCT 17, 2008
posted by samdie
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Thanks all. I appreciate the help, as well as the ancillary, yet insightful, excursus:^)

updated OCT 17, 2008
posted by ray2
0
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James Santiago said:

You seem to be very protective and defensive of Spanish. I'm not attacking it, just commenting on what I view as a fact. Language is a complicated tangle, but we don't need to deny things just because they may have unpleasant connotations.

James, I know that you know what we both mean, but many people do not, and there are nowadays some (specially some Spanish feminists) who are trying to destroy the language because they think that they are being attacked by a sexist language, or something worse: they say things like "maridas", "jónenas", and crap like that. They are missing the point: people are not being sexist by using the language like that; some people are sexist, and some aren't, but both communicate using the same convention.

When I lived with my parents, both of them, my brother and I used to do everything in the house, from cooking to doing the laundry and cleaning, and my mother taught us to say "ellos" to refer to a group of both men and women, clarifying that it is a grammatical ending, not a reference to their sexes. I can't understand sexism personally, and fail to see how my mother was sexist or using a sexist language.

And I am defensive about Spanish, because I don't want those retarded who claim to be trying to eradicate sexism, end up destroying a literary rich language that has been evolving for centuries, while the real sexists, the people who hold those believes, walk the street saying "ellos y ellas" instead of "ellos".

updated OCT 17, 2008
posted by lazarus1907
0
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Ray, read my first post and Heidita's first post. The answer is right there.

updated OCT 17, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
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Lazarus, you know I'm not accusing you (or anyone else) of personally being sexist (and, by the way, the definition you gave agrees exactly with what I mean by the word). I'm pointing out that the Spanish language is historically sexist. The rules were made by the men in power. I'm not advocating any changes to the language, and I have no problem with its use by myself or anyone else. But it is indeed a sexist convention to give precedence to the masculine form in Spanish and other languages. Why is that so hard to admit? It isn't YOUR fault.

English also has some sexist conventions. We more often use "he" to refer to a person of unknown gender, we call humans "man" and "mankind," we refer to God as masculine, we have job titles like policeman, and so forth. This has changed a lot in recent years, and while some of the changes may seem petty, I think it's a positive trend overall.

You seem to be very protective and defensive of Spanish. I'm not attacking it (you won't find many people who love Spanish more than I do), just commenting on what I view as a fact. Language is a complicated tangle, but we don't need to deny things just because they may have unpleasant connotations.

updated OCT 17, 2008
posted by 00bacfba
0
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I think this is an example of something being said "tongue in cheek". Heidita knows that Spanish is not a sexist language--it just looks that way to a native English speaker who has been sensitized by a "politically correct" environment.
Now we have a new expression to deal with: "tongue in cheek." Anyone want to takle that'

updated OCT 17, 2008
posted by CalvoViejo
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