Re: Inclusive Language, Hungarian

Tibor Benke (benke@SFU.CA)
Fri, 18 Nov 1994 10:26:45 -0800

>On Wed, 16 Nov 1994, Tibor Benke wrote:
>> For years I have been telling my friends that the whole problem would be
>> easily resolved if we adopted Hungarian as the official language of the
>> planet. There are two third person pronouns, one designating animals or
>> objects and one designating people. Also, almost all terms for jobs are
>> gender neutral and , in principle, all could be. ;-) >

And on Thurs., Nov. 17 Adrian Tanner replied:

>Let us note the very much alive aboriginal languages (in the northern part
>of North America, anyway) do not suffer from the limitations of gender
>terminology in English. In fact one frequently notices how often native
>speakers of Cree have difficulty in using the English gender pronouns, and
>often end up choosing 'she' for males and 'he' for females. On the other
>hand, I once heard a paper which suggested that in Iroqouan languages the
>female was the unmarked case, just as in English male is (i.e. if you do
>not know the gender, or gender is irrelevant, then the male form stands for
>both). Can anyone confirm this?
>If this is so, then radical feminists could adopt an Iroqouan language,
>and those of us who are ideologically gender neutral can become Cree

Yes! I think Cree as the official language for Canada would solve both the
Bilingualism and gender neutrality problems at one stroke and go some way
toward dealing with aboriginal rights. ;-)

Seriously though, dispite Hungarian being a gender neutral language,
Hungarian society does not seem to be particularly less patriarchal then
English speaking societies. Apparently, patriarchy can thrive without
linguistic props. What is more, Hungarian feminists do not have the
opportunity of reminding men that they are being unconsciously sexist by
using their language without paying special attention to the new
proprieties. On the other hand, what you say about Iriquian and what
little I read about the role of women in Iriquian society, maybe there is
some relationship between language and social structure. I wonder if
anyone on the list knows of literature on this subject from a cross
cultural point of view?

>@> (*)%(^)%
>@> Tibor Benke / (^)%(#)
>@> Graduate Student (MA program)
>@> Department of Sociology and Anthropology
>@> Simon Fraser University,
>@> Burnaby, B.C., Canada. V5A 1S6 >@>
>@> Nota Bene: The opinions herein expressed are merely my own ! >@> ^^^^^^^^^^^