I think that it might be because nowadays, where the term "lady"is used it is more often than not used to "gentrify" someone who clearly is not of the gentry, or alternatively it is used by the quintessential "male chauvinist" to patronize women (harking back to the days that gentlemen ran things and ladies ran the home).
Agreed, although actress still feels natural English usage except that most actresses prefer to be called actors. Also postmistress (though they are probably a dying breed) and manageress (eg of your local convenience store). And prophetess. Even murderess, though perhaps let's not go there! Any other -esses in normal English usage?
"Just because it is in the dictionary, I'm not sure that it means it is/was ever used much."
I would submit that that is exactly why a word is in the dictionary.
In the end it matters little, and certainly I agree it is not a commonly used word today! Perhaps James Fenimore Cooper or Jane Austen would have used it: that is a job for a linguist with a language corpus.
Perhaps I am missing something.
Well, you would have thought so, and yet I'm pretty sure that if I were to read my way through a dictionary, I would come across a great many rare and unusual words for everyday things. Anyhow, yes, it matters little: both seamster and seamstress sound pretty dated nowadays!
How sad!! Some professions have historically had a mixture of sexes hence it was and, i would contend is perfectly acceptable to use the appropriate term, e.g. actor actress. author authoress. Some were predominately male or female and no opposite gender existed (e.g. butcher) and today bucheress would sound contrived and stupid hence the term is now unisex. Why destroy a language for PC, I suppose its all hens now a pity about the cockerel maybe is all bull anyway
I agree. The writer is perfectly acceptable as the English translation here and if Duolingo didn't already accept it, I would be telling them to. In English we get gender clues from other parts of the sentence (ie. The writer talks about her book), there is no need for dated terms like authoress.
Writeress, though not very common, is also used:
I'd never heard it until today. Are other gendered job titles still regularly used in the UK? I've been a little surprised by how antiquated some of these professions sound (such as "mailman" and "policeman"), and aside from "actress" (which is also rapidly fading away) I can't think of a single job title that still makes note of the worker's gender. Is this trend a US thing?
Exceptions edit: Councilman, congressman
I'm not sure why 'lady writer' is an abomination, and even if so, of what it is an abomination? Certainly not of English. Of course, I agree that 'authoress' should also be a correct translation. Either way, 'male doctor' is in fact a more exact translation for 'dottore,' while 'dottoressa' is the more exact translation for female/woman/lady doctor. I guess the Italians are just not so hung up on gender; an Italian psychiatrist friend is quite happy to be called dottoressa, just don't call her Signora in her office! So do you mean the Italian language needs to be brought into the 21st century?
I think you are missing the point. The Italian langage does exactly what it wants, but if you want to translate 'scrittrice' into English, you need to add a gender. Scrittrice certainly does not mean male/man/masculine writer. I don't care, if anyone else is hung up on gender, I'm not, but there is no way around it - scrittore = male etc. writer, scrittrice = female etc. writer.
Depends... How would you translate e.g. French "ils sont" vs. "elles sont" -- both "they are", but the translation loses the gender distinction explicitly present in the original. Or losing a different distinction: "tu es" vs. "vous etes" -- both "you are", but loses the formality distinction. Idiomatic translation cannot necessarily conserve all of the nuances or ambiguities of the original.
Well it depends if I wanted to emphasise the gender. If I were talking about them, I would just say they, but if I wanted to indicate that they were women in particular, I might say 'those women', those ladies over there. You're right that there is no single word to carry that impression, as there is no single word for female writer (except perhaps writeress, but that just sounds silly), but there is always a way of conveying it by using extra words. So, the question here is how best to convey the gender of the writer (assuming that we want to emphasise that it's a woman) in English.
You don't need to add a gender when translating to English, because in English we don't differentiate occupations by gender in most cases. We use author/doctor/etc for both men and women. There are a few cases where gendered occupations still persist but author is not one of them (certainly not here in Australia anyway - I have never heard authoress used).
Yes, in Italian "scrittrice" refers to female authors only but it is perfectly acceptable to translate "la scrittrice" to "the author" because information about someone's gender is not given by occcuptions in English. The gender of the author being referred to is revealed by context clues (ie. The author writes her book - it's perfectly clear what gender the author is in this example). Duolingo accepted "the writer" (no gender qualifying words) as correct just now so they agree.
It's a bit like in Italian how "il suo libro" can mean either "his book" or "her book" - and you have to work out whether it's his or her from context. So in the Italian sentence "La scrittrice scriva il suo libro" you determine the gender of the person from the word used for author - but in the English sentence "The author writes her book" - the use of her (instead of his) is what makes you understand that the author is female. Interesting, isn't it?
amaybury is right, it is you that is missing the point. I don't object to translating a term using gender, since gender is intended in the original Italian. I object to using the term "lady writer" which is a term used by Victorians to insult women who wrote. I could translate it "female writer" and that seems to now be accepted as correct, but if I needed to say that a writer was female, I would say "woman writer" and that is not accepted as correct.
From your other post [I'm not sure why it doesn't show in this discussion but I received an e-mail notification]
"A writer is not necessarily an author. I am a professional writer, but I am not an author. However, I'm definitely a female and not a lady!"
Anyone who writes, professionally or not, is most certainly an author, or authoress: just as I am the author of this reply.
Although 'lady' is maybe a subjective term and therefore debatable, 'female' or 'woman' writer, or authoress, should all be accepted as translations of 'scrittice.' I suppose 'writeress' would be a backward step.
Cin cin, Terrey
PS. I'm sure you are a lady writer really!!
The previous time I answered this one, I put 'lady' in brackets i.e. 'The (lady) writer' to show that I understood that the writer was female, but that in English we would usually just say the writer. Duolingo took offence to the brackets and marked it wrong! Usually English avoids the often redundant notion of gender, and it is now more acceptable not to discriminate with "-ess' endings etc. E.g. 'Actor' is now commonly used for female and male thespians.
Amidst all this political correctness, nobody seems to have noticed that scritore/trice and autore/trice have different meanings. The former is merely "someone who writes", including jobs where "author" would be silly, such as a copywriter. The latter is "someone who originates a creative work", as is shown by its use in Italian for painters, artistic photographers, film directors, etc, for whom "writer" would be silly.
So I think that authoress is not a very accurate translation here, whatever you think of its gender.
No. Nouns that end in -e in the singular can be either feminine or masculine, and they all change to ending in -i in plural regardless of gender. The gender doesn't change, the issue is that -i plural ending can be for both masculine words (-o or -e ending when singular) or feminine words (-e ending when singular). It's more likely to be masculine because of all those singular nouns ending in -o, but really you have to look at the article to be sure. La scrittrice becomes le scrittrici when plural - le clearly indicates the word is feminine plural.
I agree (as does Duolingo) that "the writer" is a perfectly valid translation of "la scrittrice". In English we get information about the gender of the writer from context clues ie. The writer writes her book. In the Italian translation (La scrittrice scriva il suo libro) "la scrittrice" gives us information about the gender of the writer and "il suo libro" doesn't, but in the English sentence it's the other way round - "her book" tells us the gender of the writer and "the writer" doesn't.
If you fall into the trap of translating directly into the usage that you would use, you will miss some of the meaning of the Italian. By that I mean, in English, she would be a writer. In Italian she would be a scrittrice, unless she were with a mixed group of writers who would then be referred to in the masculine plural. I assume that if you had no idea as to Ms. Rowling's sex, then she would be a scrittore, which would be the default you referred to. If you know, then scrittrice is correct.
Agreed, but whether it is in common use makes it worth learning or not. Maybe its a regional thing: US common, UK rare? But US online dictionaries say:
writeress (plural writeresses) (dated, rare) A female writer; an authoress.
Don't you think it morally wrong to give non-native speakers words that may embarrass them?
Hahaha naw, I had to look it up myself. ;-) Writeress is not common in the US to my knowledge. Never heard of it prior.
Your second point is interesting. I had approached it in the sense of "is this correct", not "is this a good idea". Maybe, and much to your point, the better thing to do is accept the antiquated answer if given, but not to suggest it in the lesson. At the same time, this was an English word in a Learning Italian lesson, so perhaps any word that indicates understanding should be a green light. All of this is a big ask from a computer, admittedly.
This thread is way too long and can be summed up as follows: The way duolingo - and gendered language in general operates - gives incredible insight into how a society and sexism operates. Before there are cries of foul play, no this does not mean anyone who speaks this language is sexist or something ridiculous like that. These things are not simple.
The 'normal'/base/default of the word is the masculine form. Notice how the endings -trice, -essa etc are always given in dimmed brackets? Just in case a woman happens to be doing a job that was originally a man's? Writers, astronauts, lawyers - male male male. Except for secretary (segretaria)? Anyone who cannot see the glaring stereotypes here, I don't even... Latin-based languages obviously can alter the noun by changing the ending but it just goes to show that it is a reflection of how a language has had to 'catch up' with society gradually changing to allow women into the workforce when they originally wouldn't have even dreamed of leaving a life of unpaid housework.
Why is "la scrittrice" a lady writer but the translation for "lo scrittore" just 'the writer? Why is conduttore just a presenter but "conduttrice" a FEMALE presenter? Because men hold the domain of 'the great normal'.
Additionally, I often make a point of giving the female pronoun when translating a sentence containing the third person possessive (suo/sua) but not stating directly whether it is 'lui' or 'lei'. Duolingo always tells me the other option for the answer as "his" or "he" [object/action]. Never when I use the male pronoun does it say it could also be a woman or girl doing the action or having the occupation.
WOULD LOVE IT IF THIS COULD BE AMENDED DUOLINGO K THX
If you look at all the other comments, you'll notice a general theme on 'female writer' - 'lo scrittore' is masculine, used for a male author, while 'la scrittrice' is feminine, used for a female author. Translating it into English, both phrases would translate to just 'author' or 'writer', because English very rarely distinguishes between gender like that.
And you could certainly say, if you were speaking of two writers named, say, Chris Holmes, "No, the woman writer." You would never say, "the lady writer," unless you were from the XVIII century.
In Dire Straits, Mark Knopfler is being ironic, sillies! Listen to the rest of the lyrics!
Lo scrittore = The writer (male)
La scrittrice = The writer (female)
Il conduttore = presenter, anchor (male)
La conduttrice = presenter, anchor (female)
Il direttore = The director (male)
La direttrice = The director (female)
Can you spot the profession gender "suffix"?
(There are also professions that have more regular gender endings.)
Hey. To many are on their high horses. This is a language teaching forum not a socio-political site. Like it or not, Italian, German and other languages use gender, and we need to be able to show we have correctly understood. In this case we were asked to translate a clearly femininej ob title. How are we to demonstrate we have correctly understood if we do not respond with a corresponding word from English? Authoress is the long standing term, even though Duo, in ignorance, refuses it. And there are perfectly acceptable reasons for distinguished between male and female doctors, such as to express a preference when at the medical centre. Dont try to tell me that is not allowed, because I know women who do prefer to see a female doctor. So you may wish to be able to do the same when in Italy.
You're right, in vernacular use 'author' is becoming gender neutral. Personally, I don't care what people call themselves. But just because you don't like a particular word, that doesn't make it sexist, or incorrect, however important you consider yourself. I don't 'need' the word 'actress' either, but if I met one, and she referred to herself as being an actress, I would not be so rude as to call her an actor - or vice versa.
I'm sorry, you are incorrect. As long as the words actress and authoress appear in dictionaries, there can be no argument that they exist, and - as you say - that they are gender specific; and if they are gender specific, then actor and author must be as well. I'm really, really sorry if that offends you, or anybody else.
As I've noted elsewhere in this discussion, I honestly don't care. All I am doing is ponting out fact, although I really don't understand how it can be offensive to recognise gender, or be more precise, in our language usage. Cin cin.
Exactly! Not that it's important, it's just trivial at best, but creating separate feminine words for occupations is actually more sexist: it's more divisive and diminishing. That said, it's not something to make a fuss over!
2016-2017 has been so frustrating in this respect.
if you hold on to the english words "authoress" and such you are even more sexist than these italian words. The english words have an unmarked form and call that masculine, and then a marked form that is feminine. That implies that the default human is male. That's stupid and horrible and wrong.
I don't think you are asking me but anyway, my answer is emphatically 'no.' I think the people who complain about gender specificity in English have the problem. We are translating two very different languages. Comparing Italian [genderised inanimate objects] to English [gender - don't care] is like comparing apples and oranges.
No, you are incorrect. What about 'seamtress?' The word 'seamster' no longer exists. Does that make the defualt female? Maybe in olden day yes, but now, much less so. I would postulate that 'actor' and 'actress' are gender recognisable, and more informal, forms of 'thespian,' and if you can gender defualt that word, please let me know; and even if you could, who really cares? But you are still missing the point. I [and I assume you] are here to improve our Italian, and whether we like it or not, there are certain words that are gender specific in that language. What you need to understand is that it is the WORDS that are gender specific, not the objects to which they refer; 'la tiera' is a female singular noun, or do you really think that teapots are female? So I repeat my question: Do you mean the Italian language needs to be brought into the 21st century?
seamster (plural seamsters) (female seamstress)
- A MAN who sews clothes professionally [my emphasis]
OMG, how sexist! You managed to find an English word that is not in the OED and which, according to you, shouldn't exist anyway because it has gender specific forms. Seems like you are still missing the point.
To quote you: ‘…you are even more sexist than these italian words…’ It seems you have a problem with anything gender specific. You might try learning Russian instead of one of the romance languages. Incidentally, the word ‘Italian’ is an adjective derived from a proper noun; as such it should be capitalised.
About seamster: what I actually said was that the word is defunct. It seems you are still missing the point. Whether you like it or not, there are words in Italian, and English come to that, that are gender specific. Of course, it is your prerogative if you wish to call them, or me, sexist, or anything else for that matter. However, for now you are just going to have to come to terms with it, they exist; I can’t see Italian, or French, or Spanish, or German, et al, changing just because a few native English speakers find gender specific words offensive. Maybe they won’t exist [in English] in the future, which was the point I obviously failed to make about the word ‘seamster,’
Your ‘er’ sentence is absolute nonsense. If you add ‘er’ to the verb ‘to drive,’ you get ‘driveer’ which is not the noun formed from the verb, and similarly, if you subtract ‘er’ from ‘seamster’ you get ‘seamst,’ which is not the verb derived from ‘seamster.’
Don't know what year these comments were written but in English as we speak it in Australia gender has been removed from occupations - we have a chairperson not chairman or chairlady , an author (of either gender) an aviator (not aviatrix) and so on. It's fine for Italian to keep its distinctions but Dl should recognise English has dropped them.
Ugh the italian words are not sexist just heavily genderised. there is no logical reason to genderise table or chair, but romance and most germanic languages just do.
Please stop this "Hello I'm a good person and everyone else is sexist because I make stupid comments about any trivial gender-based situation because this is 2017 and Hermione Granger is feminist now" dilemma we're in.