Monday, June 30, 2003


Kelley L Ross says: "Old Persian, like Greek, Latin, and Sanskrit, had the original Indo-European genders of masculine, feminine, and neuter. By Middle Persian all gender had disappeared. This was not the result of Persian feminist criticism, nor was it the result of the evolution of an equal opportunity society for women. It just happened -- as most kinds of linguistic change do. Modern Persian is a language completely without gender. There are not even different words for "he" and "she," just the unisex un. (There are not even different titles for married and unmarried women: Persian khanum can be translated as "Ms.")

Nevertheless, after some progress under Western influence, the Revolutionary Iran of the Ayatollah Khomeini retreated from the modern world into a vigorous re-establishment of mediaevalism, putting everyone, especially women, back into their traditional places.

So the advice could be: If someone wants "non-sexist language," move to Iran. But that probably would not be quite what they have in mind. Why didn't the "gender free" Persian language create a feminist utopia? This goes to show us that gender in language is completely irrelevant to the sexual openness of society. ..."

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