"She is a famous composer."
Translation:Она известный композитор.
Interesting fact: many Russian feminists advocate using of female forms and making them up when they don't exist. For example, this sentence could be written «Она известная композиторка». However, the word «композиторка» hasn't made its way into the dictionaries yet.
Unfortunately, I can't find anything about this in English, but in Russian you can find information about this by googling «феминитивы».
Interesting how differently our two societies think about that! In America, we are increasingly moving to neutral forms in cases where gender-specific forms have existed in the past. The idea is that a woman's presence should not be treated as remarkable or as part of a different (lesser) class than a man's. "Stewardess" is a prime example of a word that has been phased out.
Perhaps (my Russian isn't good enough to read a lot of those sites yet) the Russian feminist idea is that it is not nice to speak in a way that assumes women can't be in certain positions, or that a woman who takes those jobs is somehow less feminine?
Russian speakers cannot do the same thing the English speakers do because there's no grammatical gender in English, so true neutral forms are possible.
In Russian, «композитор» is not really a true neutral form because it requires masculine adjectives, it's declined like masculine words and so on. So by using it as a default we re-affirm masculinity as the default option.
the Russian feminist idea is that it is not nice to speak in a way that assumes women can't be in certain positions
I believe that is true.
Forms in -ша are generally avoided because they are percieved as derogatory:
Даже если отбросить это словарное правило и просто присмотреться к женским формам на «-ша», станет очевидным следующее: практически все они несут в себе оттенки принижения, пренебрежения и преуменьшения. Да, иногда они привычней звучат: авторша, директорша (или, того хуже, директриса), блоггерша и так далее, НО. Одно большое «НО» жирным шрифтом: во всех этих словах заметен негативный контекст. (http://yu-de-ki.livejournal.com/169603.html)
I am not arguing for using "композиторша" instead of "композитор" - I agree that it carries a slight flavour of disdain or disrespect. However, I am not certain that a newly invented word, "композиторка", would not immediately acquire it - simply because it is so awkward. Moreover, I completely disagree with the argument that using a masculine form "assumes women can't be in certain positions". The blog post you have cited certainly brings examples that fit its narrative. However, ask yourself why it doesn't take an issue with the word "врач"? Discarding the disrespectful "врачиха" (no -ша there!), would she (or you) rather see "врачка"? And if "врач" is OK, and is not conveying the message of masculine exceptionalism that you seem to be arguing against, then why "композитор" can't function in exactly the same manner?
I’m just telling what approaches to feminine forms in Russian exist. I have no desire whatsoever to have an argument for or against a certain approach. First, I believe this is not a good place for such an argument. Second, I have absolutely no desire to be dragged into such an argument.
if "врач" is OK
I think it's композиторка with the к because in Russian generally k's are added after r's (see szeraja_zhaba's comment on Докторка). I lived in a village in Kyrgyzstan called in the local language Кочкор, but Russian speakers all called it Кочкорка because it "sounded better" in Russian. I'm sure there's an official linguistic reason--I'm just speaking from experience.
Funny thing, I was going to say композиторша too, as композиторка sounds Ukrainian to me (it is common in Ukrainian, e.g. вчитель - вчителька, викладач - викладачка, касир - касирка, лікар - лікарка, співак - співачка, композитор - композиторка)
Didn't know -ша is considered derogatory by feminists. Thanks for sharing.
What's really funny is that here is another thread, where someone (clearly female) is adamant about not accepting "официантка" (which, unlike the other ones mentioned in this thread is an actual dictionary word), and insisting that it's "официант" regardless of the person's gender:
(scroll to the bottom and click on Hidden Comments - it has been down-voted too many times).
Official documents, such as job contracts, almost always use the masculine form. Many occupations have a feminine form, it can be either informal (even with a slight derogatory meaning) or neutral. Neutral examples: поэт - поэтесса, учитель - учительница. Informal examples: врач - врачиха, секретарь - секретарша, композитор - композиторша.
The problem with hints is that they are not really context-related & композитора is legitimate accusative & genitive cases of композитор. There must be another exercise in this course that has this word in one of these cases, and that's how the hint "crept in". Given the constraints of how the database is organised (and that is hard-coded into the Duolingo platform), I am not sure how this can be remedied.
About this particular instance though: I can't think of a single occupation where its female equivalent is produced by simply adding -а to the end (it is often -ка,-ша or -иха). The only example that pops to my head is раб-раба (a slave), but that's not an occupation and also "раба" sounds archaic or literary; a common word for a female slave is "рабыня".