https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bob20020

Does a language exist without the words "he" and "she"?

So I've seen words that reference to a person's gender, either a boy or a girl.

But is there a language that doesn't specify that? Like they use "it" for both genders so you could never know without context which one they're talking about?

(This isn't a gender warrior post, I'm actually curious about the language itself if there is one that does this)

August 12, 2017

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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JensBu

he and she:

Finnish: hän

Estonian: ta Hungarian: ő

Turkish: o

Persian: u (او)

Malay: dia (inf.)

Indonesian: dia (inf.)

Cantonese: keui5 (佢)

Pipil: yaja

Quechua: pay

Bengali: se (সএ)

Armenian: na (նա)

Vietnamese: nó

Tagalog: siya

Nahuatl: yehuātl

Yoruba: oun

Many more.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DragonPolyglot

Little side note for Vietnamese....

Even though it's a relatively gender-neutral language the Vietnamese course on Duolingo does have distinct words for "he" (anh ấy) and "she" (cô ấy). "Nó" in this context is probably closer to English "they (singular)" and Swedish "hen".

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/skyflakes95

Can confirm, "siya" is used in Tagalog as the third person singular and it's gender neutral.

My mom has been speaking English for about 50 years and has lived in the US for 25 but she mixes up everyone's pronouns because separating out he/she, his/her, and him/her when speaking still isn't completely natural to her.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fr224

Igbo: ya

August 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fr224

Hindustani (Hindi + Urdu) uses यह/يہ‏‏ ye and वह/وہ vo ("this", "that" respectively). They vary only on proximity, they do not vary on gender and do not vary on number in spoken language or written Urdu. They are pronounced the same as the plural pronouns, but Hindi still writes them differently (यह yah vs ये ye and वह vah vs वे vo).

August 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Maughanster_

Swahili. It uses the word yeye for both he and she.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ignatznkrazy

Guarani uses ha'e as the third person singular pronoun for both genders.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/LavethWolf

Finnish has hän, which is a third person pronoun that is used for everybody, regardless of gender.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestartreK1st

High Valyrian.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bob20020

Ok. Can you give an example?

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DestartreK1st

OK. issa vala: he is a man

is: issa; man: vala

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BelgianStr

High Valyrian has 4 genders: aquatic, lunar, solar and terrestrial.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DragonPolyglot

Isn't it aquatic, lunar, solar and terrestrial? I'm not really a Valyrian expert but while reading about the grammar I remember one of the names having to do with the earth. Either way it's probably one of the most interesting gender systems I've seen.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JensBu

How about she is? Is the pronoun omitted here because the conjugated verb carries number and person?

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/SprightBark

Yes the verb carries number and person. But not gender.

There are pronouns which agree with grammatical gender.

ūja ['uːja]
pers.pron. it, (he, she) (terrestrial, aquatic)

ziry ['ziɾy]
pron. he, she, (it) (solar lunar)

Source: https://wiki.dothraki.org/High_Valyrian_Vocabulary

Both ābra and vala are lunar grammatical gender, so if the pronoun was included:

ziry ābra issa = she is a woman
ziry vala issa = he is a man

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/schmidzy

Mandarin

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JimLeonard0

In Mandarin the same sound is used for he, she, and it, but they all have different characters. Originally the same character was used for both he and she, but now a separate character is usually used for she which replaces the person radical with the woman radical.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Bob20020

I remember learning some Mandarin years back. I thought there were words for he and she??

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Luko.

They have "ta1" which is both "he" and "she", there is a neutral character and a female character, but both sound the same.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/AmareloTiago

Was it... Sumerian? Akkadian? One of those languages of early civilization separated not by grammatical gender but by animate vs. inanimate. People, statues and dogs get one animate pronoun and things get a different pronoun.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/scarcerer

Apparently Sumerian. You can see there are also modern languages like Ojibwe that still use animate vs inanimate instead of masculine/feminine/neuter.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/kuah

This article on wikipedia seems to cover the topic you are discussing. The article's coverage of "Austronesian languages" suggest that they might be a sepcific example of what you mean. That said, I suspect every language has gender references in some fashion, since there is no avoiding the topic.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/JensBu

It depends on what is meant. Not all languages mentioned in the article match with the question. There are languages where you can only tell the gender by context because there is no different word for them. But some languages in the article have different words for he and she.

In Khmer, Thai, Mongolian, Japanese, Modern English, Zulu, Xhosa and many other languages that do not have gender the pronoun for he and she is different.

I'm not sure if the Dravidian languages have gender but there pronouns are different for he and she.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BarbaraCha360905

In spoken Mandarin Chinese the word for 'he', 'she', and 'it' is the same. The characters used to write these words are different.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/KxngDeo.

Lingala uses 'a' which is a language spoken in the two Congos.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/susanstory

I think that "he/she" is the same in the Cree language as well. The reason why I think that is because sometimes when I've heard them talking English, when they're supposed to say "he", they say "she" or vice versa.

I looked up some websites about it. The Cree Dictionary link has the same word for "he" as for "she"

http://www.creedictionary.com/

Also this website has the same words for "she/he sees/hears"

http://nisto.com/cree/lesson/27.html

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/ColdBird

In American Sign Language (ASL), gender is usually omitted from "he" and "she". There are ways to specify a person's gender when desired, but it's also very possible to give a person's name and then sign he/she in a way that doesn't reveal the person's gender.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Fire-ergens

Low Saxon is 'relatively' gender-neutral in pronoun usage, although it all depends on the exact dialect. Many of them use 'ie' for both 'he' and 'she' and 'z'n eigen' (or something alike) for 'his/herself' 'ie wast z'n eigen' can' mean both 'he washes himself' and 'she washes herself'. Still, he/she washes him/herself can also be something like 'hie/zie wast hum' so the exact 'gender-neutralness' depends on the dialect.

August 12, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fr224

Hindustani (Hindi + Urdu) uses यह/يہ‏‏ ye and वह/وہ vo ("this", "that" respectively). They vary only on proximity, they do not vary on gender and do not vary on number in spoken language or written Urdu. They are pronounced the same as the plural pronouns, but Hindi still writes them differently (यह yah vs ये ye and वह vah vs वे vo).

Igbo uses ya, which becomes o/ọ for verbs.

August 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/fr224

You can go to https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/he#English , look at the translations under the English definition, and CTRL+F for "both male and female"

August 14, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/mizinamo

Klingon uses ghaH for both "he" and "she", i.e. for all beings capable of using language. 'oH is for "it" -- non-language-users such as animals and inanimate objects.

August 15, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Setsuko670458

armenian:նա (na) azerbaijani:o cebuano:siya chichewa:iye filipino:siya kreyol:li hindi:वह (vah) hmong:nws igbo:ọ indonesian:dia kazakh:ол (ol) kyrgyz:ал (al) malagasy:izy maori:ko ia mongolian:тэр (ter) pashto:هغه persian:او punjabi:ਉਹ samoan:ia sesotho:eena shona:iye sundanese:manehna swahili:yeye turkish:o urdu:وہ and to close off,xhosa and zulu use yena

November 27, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Eysan629

I'm a native Turkish speaker. In Turkish, the personal pronoun ''o''. It is used for men, women, non-living things, animals and such.

April 20, 2018
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