Posts tagged with "science" - Faerye Net 2009-04-08T15:21:18+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Language and gender 2009-04-08T15:21:18+00:00 2009-04-08T15:23:27+00:00 <p>I don&#8217;t usually just post links to other blogs, but the study <a href="" target="links">Zuska</a> is <a href="" target="links">talking about here</a> is fascinating:<br /> <blockquote>Would you describe a bridge as fragile, elegant, beautiful, peaceful, slender, pretty? Or as strong, dangerous, long, sturdy, big, towering? Lera Boroditsky, an assistant psychology professor at Stanford University, found that it depends &#8211; for native German and Spanish speakers, on whether your native tongue assigns a feminine or masculine gender to the noun bridge.</blockquote></p> <p>I&#8217;ve long been interested in the intricacies and contradictions of gendered language, both in the study of French and Latin and in the <a href="" target="links">more</a> <a href="" target="links">subtle</a> ways English is gendered. I&#8217;m glad this sort of rigorous research is going on, and I hope that this kind of work can inspire at least a few people to consider how deeply their firm ideas of gender are shaped by culture. We love to believe we are free agents, that the choices we make and beliefs we hold are our own. But we are rooted, growing out of a place, a culture, a family, even a religion. The more we acknowledge and analyze the things that shape us, the more we can grow beyond them. Our culture gives us meaning and common ground, but it can also be poisonous and stunting. Only by facing that can we fight it, and work to become truly free.</p> I've been wrong my whole life! 2008-08-05T08:01:17+00:00 2008-08-05T08:01:17+00:00 <p>When you&#8217;re a kid, the facts that don&#8217;t make sense are all the more important for it. Other kids will fall into the same trap you did, and you can correct them. This is important stuff. These are the foundations of being right. &#8220;Koala bears aren&#8217;t bears,&#8221; for example; and &#8220;Panda bears aren&#8217;t bears.&#8221;</p> <p>Except <a href="">Giant Pandas are bears</a> and have been for years (that article is from 1985). Now, I&#8217;m not sure whether I already had a panda vs. bear opinion in preschool, but it&#8217;s quite possible I&#8217;ve been wrong about this distinction my entire life. The change took a while to percolate out into public knowledge &#8211; I remember the <a href="" target="links">zoo</a> feeding us the Proconyid (raccoon family) line on field trips when they showed us the <a href="" target="links">Red Pandas</a>. It took even longer to filter into my consciousness. I actually realized today, after the first shock of hearing &#8220;panda&#8221; listed among the bears on a nature special, that I have been told this before. The information simply broke against the wall of kindergarten certainty that Pandas Aren&#8217;t Bears (compounded perhaps with a later tendency towards <a href="" target="links">splitterism</a>) and fell away.</p> <p>So partially I&#8217;m blogging this so anyone else out there laboring under this misconception (and as enamored as I of Being Right) can learn the startling truth, and partially I&#8217;m admitting my error publicly so it will forever be cemented in my mind. From now on I will remember: Everything I thought I knew about Pandas was a lie!</p> <center><a href="" target="links"><br /> <img src="" title="Panda Cat, photo by fox_kiyo" width="240" height="180" alt="Panda Cat" border="0" /></a></center>