For some reason I'm picturing this as a medieval scene with a guy standing on a balcony of a castle with a chicken and a horse next to him on a fancy platform, calling out to a crowd of loyal followers below:
Castle guy on balcony: "La koko kaj la ĉevalo vivas!"
Crowd (in hearty unison, fists raised in air): "Vivu la koko kaj la ĉevalo!"
I wish Duolingo had more of these silly sentences. They make just enough sense that you can make up ridiculous stories about them but they're memorable for being absolutely ridiculous.
It says in the tips & notes, that the base word is gender neutral (so koko is chicken, either rooster or hen) and to make it specifically male, you'd add vir-, so virkoko is unambiguously "rooster".
I'm no expert though, that's just what I deduced from the notes of the lesson. So if I got it correctly :
koko = chicken, either rooster or hen
kokido = chick
kokino = hen
virkoko = rooster
Ah! The base is gender-neutral? That makes perfect sense. Now if only "patro" meant "parent", etc. In that case, would "father" be "virpatro" or "patriĉo"? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_reform_in_Esperanto
Chicken describes also the name of the species. Just because we call mostly female chickens chicken and call male explicitly rooster, doesn’t mean that chicken just means the female ones. If you really just want to mean a female, hen is the word for you.
But yeah, I would be much happier if Esperanto really would have used always a neutral base, and like with patro meaning father and making that female.
There seems to be a lack of consensus about gender in Esperanto these days, but I can tell you how it'll turn out eventually: The base form will be gender-neutral (as this course indicates for animals, but not for people).
This same neutralization is happening in English as terms like "actress", "waitress", and "comedienne" are falling out of favor. Sometimes the base form is replaced by another seen as more gender-neutral (like "server" for "waiter"), but often this is done simply by dropping the female suffix. Honestly, adjectives like "female" and "male" should suffice, but at the very least there should be a male affix like "vir-" or "-iĉo" to run parallel to "-ino".
The gender of an animal or of a human being is most often irrelevant, so a language that requires it to be specified (or even makes it easier to specify than to leave it out) is inherently sexist. Imagine if we had obligatory suffixes to indicate a person's height, race, or other irrelevant attribute.
Just because sexism has historically been a part of most languages, that doesn't mean it should be allowed to continue. With a constructed language like Esperanto, we have a special opportunity to lead the charge and show the natural languages how it's done!
Good points. Pretty modest change, but people don't like change. And I agree that this is how most people use speech. When I say "a field full cows," I don't mean that the cattle were all female, but that the sex is unimportant to the conversation. Or, if I say "go see your doctor," I don't assume the doctor is male. The language shouldn't make that assumption for me.
@BastouXII: That's an example of a very modest language reform that's taken place mostly on its own. The "ge" prefix originally meant both genders, not either. But it certainly works to indicate gender neutrality, in my opinion. It's just a shame that the default from is masculine, not neutral. It's pretty illogical.
Steering this back on topic, would you say "chicken" should be "gekoko"?
People complain in Esperanto, because it is an invented language and as this, it would have had the chance to made it more gender-neutral. By the way, people to complain about other languages too, like in German, where you can’t talk in a neutral way about a person, because there is only he/she, not like for example in Finnish which has for both hän. (But yeah in German you can make funny things, like talking about a person (Die Person) and then always use she (sie), because person is a feminine word. You can use that even when the person would be male, because the word person is grammatically feminine.) But yeah maybe we should be happy, that we don’t male or female verbs like in Hebrew.
I think the standard form is male, maybe because it was oriented at German, here standard form is often male too. (Maybe not with things like father and mother, that are separate words, but for example names for jobs are male and become only female when adding -in, example Arzt (doctor), Ärztin. Arzt could be neutral true, but in reality people will think of it as male, that is why some people write like this Schüler/in (Student), to include both forms, when talking to someone.)
The issue is that Esperanto as originally designed treats the base form of a word as always-masculine. But, especially with animals, there are times when you don't know or just don't care if the animal is male or female, and you want to talk about it in a gender-neutral way. That is why the vir- prefix was introduced.
So "koko" as officially defined does mean "rooster," I think, but as used it is "chicken."
I answered with "cock" and it was accepted. Actually, I did not know there was a male form for a horse, as I assumed male and female forms were only only available to animals whom's physical traits differed. A bull and a cow look different, and so I refer to each with the respective names. However, all rabbits look the same, so I refer to both the male and female as a rabbit.
-ulo means person (or a member of a genre), not male. A kokulo is a cock-man. The official affix for male is vir- (ex. virkoko, rooster) , while the unofficial neologism used by people that believe Esperanto to be sexist is -iĉ (for example, kokiĉo for rooster).
Note that the use of -iĉ is frowned upon.