Translation:Are you a woman?
It is often considered impolite to ask someone directly if they are a woman or a man because it implies that they do not obviously look like one or the other (with the additional implication that they are ugly / too effeminate because they don't conform to the typical idea of what a woman or man looks like).
Transgender people and people who do not "look like" what we might consider their gender to be are gaining more recognition and acceptance. So gabrielarangel is reading the question as "Are you a woman? [I want to know so I know what to refer to you as and reaffirm your gender identity.]" It is a nicer reading, but you would only want to say this in English in specific contexts to not come across as insulting to most people.
(Note: I am trans, I support trans people regardless of how they look, I am trying to speak more simply to make me easier to understand and may be sacrificing nuance in the process.)
Onna no ko is girl but Onna no hito is woman. You'd need to add "no hito" or "no ko" if you need to distinguish between the two. Or, it would be necessary if you needed to be more formal as has been mentioned.
In my very limited experience with Japanese, I've noticed that additional politeness is often added. O is added before the words for bath or tea. San, sensei, or sama are added to names. I've started keeping track of context and formality.
The issue is that "girl" can mean "woman" in English (or at least in my dialect.) It sort of has the same meaning as "female" in that it's very general in some contexts, but "female" has a more clinical feel to it, so it's less likely to be applied to beings of your own species. "Female bird" doesn't sound weird. "Female human" kind of does, but is still accepted (perhaps, unless the female human in question is the one you're talking to.) Also, "woman" sounds weirdly formal to me, but I'm sure that's a dialectal thing. Anyway, "girl" is the most common way to refer to a female human in my dialect of American English. Onna no ko is specifically referring to female children (which we just sort of refer to as "kids" along with the boys. Also, while "boy" can be used as a catch-all like "male," it has amore childish connotation (as in, you're probably talking about a child or a teenager), while "girl" doesn't. Again, I am only speaking for my own dialect.)
I agree, to me, it's just like that, however just saying "female" doesn't always sound off. If someone mistook my gender, and I happened to be a woman, then saying "I'm female actually" would sound perfectly fine to my ears. Saying "are you female" here wouldn't always sound weird either, but it's really just context that I can't explain. Basically, apart from the 女の子, I think that "female" should be accepted as a valid answer for all of them, because there are certainly times where it might even be more appropriate. But then again, that's just from my dialect as well.
Specifically translating onna, onna no hito, or onna no ko to "female" seems incorrect to me, since it's more accurately "jo(u?)sei." Basically, Japanese has a layer of specification to it that I don't know if English has (anymore.) It certainly used to be that girl and boy meant female human child and male human child, respectively, but it has since lost much of that connotation (at least in some dialects.) Kind of feels eroded. Likewise, you have woman, man, female, and male. (Onna no hito, otoko no hito, josei, and dansei, respectively.) Like these terms, onna no ko and otoko no ko are very specific, and unmistakable in what they're describing (at least according to the words' constructions.) As such, even though from Japanese to English, you could translate (for example) josei as "girl," I wouldn't say that you could do the same thing in reverse, since the Japanese words don't cover as much territory (to my understanding. I'm not native and have never lived in Japan.)
I see, I think that I may have misunderstood your previous comment, but I am starting to understand more now. If 女性 and 男性 are more "clinical terms" as I think you called it, which makes sense, then what would 女 and 男 be then? I feel like those would be even more "clinical", but I'm not sure. Do you know?
Actually, I never said that josei and dansei were clinical. I said that their English counterparts were, and even then, only when applied to humans (since we are humans.) It feels normal when referring to anything of a different species (since it's impersonal) and even when someone of a different species (elves, vampires, space aliens, etc.) refers to humans in this way.
As for how dansei, josei, onna and otoko feel, I couldn't say since I don't have a native-level familiarity with them. However, from what familiarity I've gained from consuming Japanese media with English subtitles, onna and otoko feel like casual and general words loosely translating into "woman" (or the English (of my dialect) "girl") and "man," but could probably be translated into any of their respective types. That is, blanket terms used in casual speech. (onna = female, woman, girl, etc., and otoko = male, man, boy, etc.)
But it is, it's used as a non-binary pronoun, here is a link to a source: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/singular-nonbinary-they
I see where you're coming from now, it may be technically be grammatically incorrect, but if enough people use it, then wouldn't it be not wrong to say?
If so, then might I ask, if you are asking about a third person's gender, then what pronoun would you use? People do find "it" offensive, whether it should be or not, and "he" or "she" wouldn't work either, since the gender is clearly unknown.
Thank you for replying, I see now that there is really no official third person gender nueutral pronoun, but I would have to disagree with your "ur" example, although it's still slang, it's only used as a shortened version of something, not a widely used almost-unique word for something that doesn't exist already. Either way, I was unaware that it actually wasn't officially a word, so thank you for pointing that out.
I'm reading the article and I'm not really seeing many facts here. Just mostly opinions and misconstructions. "They" is used when the number of people/items is unspecified. This really looks like it was written by someone who is just trying to appease those with loud complaints.
I agree with this statement from the article: "They is taking on a new use, however: as a pronoun of choice for someone who doesn’t identify as either male or female." However, just because it's in use doesn't mean it's grammatically correct.
"In the 17th century, English laws concerning inheritance sometimes referred to people who didn’t fit a gender binary using the pronoun it, which, while dehumanizing, was conceived of as being the most grammatically fit answer to gendered pronouns around then. Adopting the already-singular they is vastly preferable." This is all opinion and an opinion based in a misunderstanding of the word "it." In fact, the pronoun is not dehumanizing. It's just that, because people have been referred to as "he" or "she" in most cases, and because most people have been able to be identified by physical gender by sight, "it" was largely used for nongendered things such as objects or concepts. Hence, it kind of gained a reputation as a pronoun that is only for these things. In its essence, that's never been a part of its job description, though. All it is is a singular, nongendered pronoun.
I know that people hate hearing it (for some reason) but facts are facts.
Edit: And to be clear, I'm talking about what is correct from a grammatical point of view, not from a social point of view. If I know someone who uses "they" as a singular pronoun, I will get confused, but I'm not going to lecture said person about it. (I will, however, do everything I can to satisfy both myself and the other person by avoiding using "them" and instead using things like "one's" "that person's" "my friend's" and so on. So far, I have not gotten any complaints about this method.) It's just that this is a language-learning curriculum, so we need to be correct here.
As for if it's correct to say or not based on how many people use it, I'd categorize it similarly to slang or textspeech. Just because many people use "ur" as "you're" does not make it correct, even though it's both understood and largely used. It's more of a modern phenomenon -- kind of "trendy" in a way. Likewise, I think it has its place, as opposed to being taught to learners of the English language/used in formal writing/used in other, similar circumstances ("to whom it may concern/to all parties involved/to the recipient of this letter/etc. all work perfectly well in formal/classical/grammatically strict situations.)
As for how to ask about a third party's gender... Well, since it's such a sensitive topic, normally I don't, but people also don't seem to mind "it" in certain situations (such as in the case of an unborn baby.) "Is it a boy or a girl?" is a common way to ask about a child's gender and no one bats an eye. However, there are certainly ways around using "it" even in this case. It's actually not so different from Japanese. If you know the person's name, you can ask "Is Kris a man or a woman?" (using the name, if you know it) or you can ask "Which pronouns does your friend prefer?" (calling someone by a "title"/association.) You can even simplify it to "It will be nice when I can meet...him?" and let yourself be corrected.
Of course. ^_^ And I was more trying to capture the feeling of the use, rather than give a 1:1. I guess another way to compare it is when people use "literally" incorrectly. (That is, they mean it to say "very/actually" when it actually means something else.) It's a "trend meaning" I guess you could say.