Duolingo is the most popular way to learn languages in the world. Best of all, it's 100% free!

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Gender and Esperanto

I have noticed that Esperanto is less egalitarian than I hoped. As a nonbinary person I tend to notice when language is male-centered, which unfortunately Esperanto seems to be.

Male seems to be the default, with female as a modifier. "Viro" to "Virino", "Knabo" to "Knabino". I have been trying to find a workaround for my own usage. Changing the Modifier to a different sound would make it possibly more neutral, or add a third gender (Vireno, Knabeno) but it does not eliminate the issue of Male being the default.

There might not be a workaround, but I am not confident enough with the language to say for sure.

I have also noticed that a lot of the example sentences are gender-biased. There are multiple examples, but especially when it comes to kissing, the example sentences seem to focus on men kissing women and girls, and rarely women kissing men. "also, a boy is a person" and "a man is a person" and "a grandfather is a person" are all sentences I have gotten multiple times, but never the female counterparts for those.

It seems strange to me that there is still so much gender bias in such a utopic language, and it seems especially strange that Duolingo seems to be supporting that bias through the example sentences.

Thoughts?

3 years ago

118 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 17
  • 14
  • 8
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 20

What I think I'm noticing in your main post is actually two concerns, gender bials as well as a lack of ways to make a gendered subject not gendered. I'll comment on the bias because that is actually something I know a bit about. Gender bias in many new courses is an established fact (or was, maybe they've fixed it since it was brought up a while back) Anyhow, I have several friends building courses and they took a look at male focused sentences and female focused sentences after someone brought this up for another course and the count was almost always biased in favor of more male focused sentences, even for the courses who had become aware of the possibility of the problem and had tried to balance it out. The bias is not conscious. I hope that is some comfort.

Also not saying it is established fact that Esperanto is bias either way. It's possible but still possible that the distribution is equal for that particular course. But if it is, several courses have worked to remove the gender bias. Hopefully, Esperanto will be among the courses to do so. I know that Spanish for English speakers has really stepped up it's game under the guidance of its post-release contributors. Swedish is doing wonderfully. I think Turkish already has an amazing gender-neutral base built into the language itself, so I'm guessing it's doing fine as well. Anyhow, I just wanted to take a moment to say that you're not necessarily imagining things, that it's most likely not on purpose, and that future change is not impossible if the course contributors make it a priority.

As for a way to speak to and about people without gendering them, languages are alive, changing with the demands placed upon them. I'm really looking forward to see how people can act on the language to be more inclusive and up to date by offering a gender neutral way to refer to the subject.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

I am super glad I'm not just imagining things. It's definitely something that is ingrained in our culture, hence why I made the post! It's good to hear from someone who knows the system :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 17
  • 14
  • 8
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 20

I edited my response above just to clarify that I'm not certain this is the case with Esperanto, it's possible. But, I don't think people should automatically assume that you're wrong when it's been prevalent in other courses in the past. As for the kissing sentences, those actually balance out (I just took a peak. and wow, lots of kissing sentences! lol. Maybe the other sentences show up later. ^_^)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/J.F.Sweeney

As for a way to speak to and about people without gendering them, languages are alive, changing with the demands placed upon them. I'm really looking forward to see how people can act on the language to be more inclusive and up to date by offering a gender neutral way to refer to the subject.

Agreed! I have discovered that I can simply use -iĉo in my writing, and I have not yet heard a comment or complaint from any interlocutor.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mar_ad
mar_ad
  • 15
  • 12
  • 8
  • 8
  • 6
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2

Honestly, I once also had a problem with apparent gender asymmetry in Esperanto, but I got over it. The way I think about it now is that the -iĉo suffix exists, I just prefer not to use it, because it's useless. I simply prefer using gender neutral nouns. Maybe in time the -ino suffix will also descend into obscurity, iff the parolantaro mem drifts in that direction. It is already happening with professions, i.e. kelnero means a waiter of either sex and there is nothing wrong with calling a waitress kelnero, while kelnerino is just unambiguously female. But if we don't really need unambiguously male forms, maybe we don't need unambiguously female forms either. For those rare instances, when we really have to specify sex (If someone is a biologist, that's kind of necessary to have), we could use already established maskla/femala. That's just a choice of style, not a reform.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vikungen

Exactly, and many more people with you find out that something like a -iĉo suffix is useless.

But can someone please explain me what the real problem here is, and I am not talking about the part of the Duolingo course, that is something OP should have to talk with the creators about.

Is the problem that there exists a female suffix that is sometimes used by some people?

And now that almost all words in Esperanto are gender neutral, what would the point of bringing in another word used only to specify gender?

I see that you agree that this woulde be nonsense, but I would like other people's opinions here as well.

So what is the problem now? I can't really see a problem with expressing oneself with the language except for the personal pronoun, and the only reason that is a problem is because of the major influx of native English speakers not feeling comfortable with using ĝi which was to be used when gender is unknown, and now could be used when it is irrelevant.

Viro/virino = homo

Reĝo/reĝino = regento

Frato/fratino = gefrato

Patro/patrino = gepatro

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luko.
Luko.
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

I am a native spanish speaker and I don't like using ĝi with human beings, I think it's sometimes confusing when you talk about both human beings and objects or animals. However, "ili" is used for both human beings and objects or animals. But I really think it isn't difficult to start using "ri" so, why not?

I shall avoid using -in-, but I am still using it when using patro, knabo, and any male word, but I'll also use -iĉ- with those words and ge- to make them neutral (in spite of it not being originally neutral but a combination of both male and female)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vikungen

... There's something you don't understand about how languages work. You can't just bend it or use it in another way because you don't like the way it is.

It would feel weird for me if I were to learn Spanish having two genders, masculine or feminine for all words. That doesn't mean I could just go around using only one of them, see where this is going?

Do whatever you want, but don't expect to be understood or taken seriously, if you best argument is "I don't like using this or that because my native language does it in another way".

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luko.
Luko.
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

My native language doesn't work that way (I wrote that because someone said that only english speakers don't like using ĝi with people), you are misundertanding everything. I wanted to leave my opinion here, I'm not pushing anyone to use -iĉo or signular ge-, but there are many people in this discussion searching for a solution to their problems, and many of them are only beginners, I'm not an expert, but I am aware of how most esperantists (who see these problems) solve this afairs.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luko.
Luko.
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

orthohawk, how can you imagine such a story? Congratulations. But here I am talking about a real problem that a lot of real people are trying to solve, if you don't like it, don't use it, but no one owns Esperanto, if you think that adding one suffix and one pronoun to Esperanto would make it another language, so I'll learn another language and you'll keep talking Esperanto, but let's see which one respects and includes non-binary people.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MrMorley3
MrMorley3
  • 11
  • 8
  • 6
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2

sierscarf, if you haven't seen it already, you'll probably be interested in Egalecen, a blog in Esperanto about gender issues, feminism and more. As a non-binary person, the article about Why you should become a 'ri'-isto is probably very relevant. Enjoy!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Thank you for these resources!! I look forward to becoming fluent enough to read them :P

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CuriousAtanaa

I have to say I'm not knowledgeable on this subject but I assume by none-binary you that you don't identify as female or male but as something in between? Assuming I'm (at least semi-)right, you have got a bit of a problem. The "ri" pronoun that other's have mentioned seems like a good option, along with "ge-" for family members. It's not perfect, it's not classical, but I don't imagine Zamenhof was exposed to the ideas of feminism let alone none-binaryism (probably the wrong term, but you know what I mean). Esperanto has many imperfections. But in my view that dose not stop it being both beautiful and intriguing.

You may be interested in looking at Ido - it's an attempt to 'fix' Esperanto. I don't know if they tackle your issue specifically but you may find there are ideas there that could help you find terms you're comfortable with.

Sorry I can't be more help, but I hope you work it out. Bonan ŝancon!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Thank you for your suggestions! Also, I realize the "none-binary" was unintentional on your part (It is usually non-binary) but I really really like the term None-binary as it seems (to me) to indicate a placement totally outside of the binary, as opposed to Nonbinary which is often interpreted (usually by cis people) as "between" the binaries, which is not accurate for me. I think I'm going to adopt the term, ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CuriousAtanaa

Glad you like it - even though it was a mistake!

Oh, and by the way I just had a look at this list of affixes. It looks to me like there might be some advantages to using -ri- as your gender modifying suffix. It seems a lot more distinct from the ones already in use than -em-, which might get confused with -en- or -in-.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mihxal
mihxal
  • 11
  • 10

Actually, the idea of using a special suffix for indicating sex comes from other natural languages. So if other languages do so, Zamenhof copied this. There is a relatively small group of words which contain gender/sex in their meaning. There are also words which are female. But the rest is just not specified. You can read about this here http://bertilow.com/pmeg/gramatiko/o-vortoj/seksa_signifo.html

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

Actually, the idea of using a special suffix for indicating sex come from other natural languages.

Specifically Indo-European languages. This is exactly an example of which I think the shortcomings of basing Esperanto on the Indo-European languages that the creator was familiar with really stands out.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

"Indo-European languages are spoken by almost 3 billion native speakers, the largest number by far for any recognised language family." -Wikipedia

The primary goal of Esperanto was to be as easy as possible for as many as possible (especially in the powder-keg of Europe which was soon to erupt) so they could speak to each other on an equal playing field and resolve their differences. Almost everything else was secondary. Most people spoke and still speak Indo-European languages. Every language has shortcomings. You have every right to prefer the shortcomings of one to those of another. But there is no perfect language and no language will convince people to share or respect all of the same beliefs. However, if we can talk to each other easily, we may be able to convince each other as individuals based on substantive experiences.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

That's fine but you forego any claims of neutrality if you decide to do that. Not just the political ones associated with the former colonial powers of Europe but also the gender ones by adopting the natural (and now somewhat archaic) sexist ways of exceptionalising words referring to females.

Moreover every language may have shortcomings, but that doesn't mean one language can't be an outright improvement on another and I don't believe that Esperanto is anywhere near the Pareto Frontier of trade-offs.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

"For example, to Esperanto is attributed an Indo-European inflected analytical character, which is explained by the fact that Zamenhof, so they say, only knew Indo-European languages. But none of these assertions was checked. In actual fact,

1) An important place among Esperanto's traits is occupied by its multicultural substratum, in which the Asiatic and Hungarian contributions have played no small part (literary activity in the Esperanto language between the two world wars developed to a great extent in a Hungarian ambience, the so-called Budapest School; Hungarian is not Indo-European).

2) Zamenhof knew a non-Indo-European language well: Hebrew, and his creation bears its stamp; for example, the semantic field of the morpheme _ig has an exact equivalent, among the languages he knew, only in the Hebrew hif'il (Piron, 1984, p. 26).

3) Esperanto acts agglutinatively, not inflectionally. Statements in it can as easily be synthetic as analytic - it is just as acceptable to say mi biciklos urben as mi iros al la urbo per biciklo; textual research shows that synthetic forms are very frequent - and if it is true that phonetically and lexically it is Indo-European, it assuredly is not so structurally: no Indo-European language consists, as it does, of strictly unalterable morphemes."

-From Psychological Reactions to Esperanto by Claude Piron

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

I've read that article, I think it's an excellent example of confirmation bias. In fact every additional "article" (quote marks used because as far as I can tell none are peer reviewed) I read by Piron further convinces me he's just a crank with an axe to grind (I'm up to four).

Scroll down a bit for the piece of my text I'm quoting. I have also already read the article you posted, it's one of the four I mention, and my first reaction to it at the time was "Of course he cited Freud".

Regarding:

  1. The existence of a multicultural substratum doesn't negate that this misfeature of Esperanto arises from European languages.
  2. I never said that Zamenhof only knew European languages. I said that the cited example was an example of where Esperanto went wrong by being based predominantly on European languages.
  3. Seriously, read some scientific papers on linguistic phylogenetics (i.e. working out which languages are related to one another). I found metagrammatical features, like whether or not the grammar is agglutinative, rarely, if ever, are used. Piron is the only person I've seen put such emphasis on it, and given that he's neither a linguist nor a phylogeneticist and very clearly starting with something he thinks is true and trying to find evidence for it...

to Esperanto is attributed an Indo-European inflected analytical character

No, to Esperanto is attributed, by me at least, an Indo-European vernacular and grammatical character. I don't think I've ever seen anyone attribute the inflectional metagrammatical nature of many European languages (some more than others) so I have no idea who Piron's responding to.

Moreover, as a link I posted previously, and you claimed to have read¹, pointed out an isolating type grammar is just a sensible choice when making a constructed easy-to-learn language. It's definitely not enough on it's own to infer any particular relationship to other languages.

¹ In fact the article in question referred specifically to the article you've posted

vi) Have you read Psychological Reactions to Esperanto?
Yes, and I'm impressed by how effective it is at making Esperantism look like Scientology, but I wasn't planning on mentioning it – it's Esperanto I object to, not Esperantists.

Plus, as a response to criticisms of Esperanto, it's basically one long ad hominem.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mihxal
mihxal
  • 11
  • 10

There are many affixes for many purposes (indicating sex is just one of them) in using them Esperanto resembles many non-Indo-European languages. You can read Claude Priron's article about it http://claudepiron.free.fr/articlesenanglais/europeanorasiatic.htm

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

I've read that article, I think it's an excellent example of confirmation bias. In fact every additional "article" (quote marks used because as far as I can tell none are peer reviewed) I read by Piron further convinces me he's just a crank with an axe to grind (I'm up to four).

It's also irrelevant to the point I'm making. There's a grammatical feature, common in the IE languages on which Esperanto is based, wherein the default is considered male and the word is altered to indicate female, the existence of other affixes and suffixes does nothing about that specific problem.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mihxal
mihxal
  • 11
  • 10

The problem that it treats male as the default. To quote a, admittedly ranty, person

<pre>This doctrine of Male‐As‐Default treats women as a negligible subgroup, and femaleness as abnormal but always noteworthy. </pre>

It's not a fact but only an opinion, you should be aware of this.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mihxal
mihxal
  • 11
  • 10

What problem?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/m.tastic
m.tastic
  • 25
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 8
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 2

Sadly, Esperanto was made in a time where women's rights weren't respected. But some of the course's sentences are quite progressive. There is an alternative masculine suffix, -iĉo, but it isn't widely accepted.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

That is really interesting! So it would be Viricxio, Knabicxio, etc?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thraenthraen
thraenthraen
  • 18
  • 14
  • 13
  • 10
  • 9
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3

Almost! You've added in an i to make it -iĉio instead of -iĉo. With that convention, it should be viriĉo kaj knabiĉo. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Thanks for the clarification! I'll keep those suffixes in mind for the future :D

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luko.
Luko.
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

Iĉo is part of the riism proposal in which "ri" is the gender-neutral singular pronoun, -iĉo is used for male words (when it is really necessary), and any gendered word (like patro, knabo, putino) becomes neutral (patro=parento, or GEpatro if you don't want to be misunderstood).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luko.
Luko.
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

Yes, that's the problem, it isn't difficult to introduce one suffix and one pronoun, but 22 words? Personally, I won't use new words until I see someone using it. However, iĉo works really well with the neutral words.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/no.name.42
no.name.42
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 18
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 3
  • 3
  • 1429

You might want to check out this Wikipedia article if you haven't already. If you want to describe yourself as a woman/man without the gender conectations you might be able to describe your self as geviro, and if you looking for a genderless third person singular you can go with ŝli.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcusAure11

Just use "homo" (human being). It's genderless and standard Esperanto.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thraenthraen
thraenthraen
  • 18
  • 14
  • 13
  • 10
  • 9
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3

The problem with this is that (the Esperanto word) homo doesn't work for expressing familial relationships like parent-child, sibling, etc., unless you use some complicated constructs, like saying "the person who raised me" instead of parent and so on. Sibling gets even harder—the person who was raised by the same people as me? What about half- or step-siblings then? How long of a phrase will that be? Having a concise, gender-neutral way to express kin relationships (and pronouns) would make things a lot easier for talking about nonbinary folks and folks whose gender is unknown or irrelevant, and it can be a simple as just adding one affix to the entire language.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

What you are saying is actually an endorsement of Esperanto. "The person who raised me" is much more burdensome in English than creating a compound that means the same thing in Esperanto. I just made up edukinto for "person who raised." A more creative person can and probably has come up with much better ideas. You can't really do the same in English and expect to be taken seriously. Instead, "thought leaders" usually come up with words that the members of a group accept or reject. I'm sure a lot of people don't want to be called transgender, but they are stuck with it in certain circles of dialog. In Esperanto you have much more freedom of independent creation and personal expression. Some of this is just an a priori acceptance of neologism and equality, but it also has much to do with the regularized structure. I should think it is actually a much better language for people with unique views and modes of expression if you can get past the (in my view) cosmetic hangups many people seem to have.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

I definitely appreciate the flexibility of the language! I am part of a community that has a penchant for "making up" our own words for our experiences even in English (though I've seen similar discussions for Spanish) and am glad that coining new words that are comprehensible seems (from your example anyway) to be a relatively simple process.

Honestly I am super excited about becoming more confident with the language for exactly these reasons! I'm glad that this discussion has showcased some of the wonderful solutions and problems that various speakers have noticed. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/no.name.42
no.name.42
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 18
  • 14
  • 12
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 3
  • 3
  • 1429

The prefix "ge" doesn't work?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thraenthraen
thraenthraen
  • 18
  • 14
  • 13
  • 10
  • 9
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3

It does (unofficially, so many may not accept it's use), and it's what I use, but I was just responding to the suggestion to use "homo."

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/MarcusAure11

I was responding to the suggestion to use "geviro", which is really unnecessary. If one really wants to study the subject, I suggest these pages: (1) http://lingvakritiko.com/2014/10/16/esperanto-kaj-sekso/ (2) http://lingvakritiko.com/2015/01/31/seksa-egaligo-en-la-lingvo-laufundamente/

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Thanks! The article is really helpful, thanks for the tips!

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Foudeb
Foudeb
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 25
  • 20
  • 16
  • 14
  • 11
  • 9
  • 8
  • 2
  • 1820

I noticed that as well and it's a major bugbear of mine in esperanto. As far as I'm aware Ido tried to fix it - using knabo as older child, knabino as female child, knabulo as male child etc.

I'm also learning Turkish and Hungarian and, for all their complexity compared to Esperanto, I do love how they only have one pronoun, and how it is amply sufficient to cover she, he and it.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/SophieHoulden

Definitely noticed a lot of this myself. I've seen it said that esperanto is a gender-neutral language and it might be to some degree - but most ways of referring to a person do gender them (when not defining them by their profession, hobbies or species). Plus a lot of the suggestions for how to make things neutral are flawed.

eg; a "vir-" prefix to masculinise means that virino = woman is feminine form of a man = sexist. a "ge-" prefix to try and remove gender seems weird, since all I've read indicates it means "of both genders" which is not gender neutral

Though I do quite like "-iĉo" option as a masculine alternative for "-ino" and treating all people/family words as unspecified gender, and "ili" as a non-gendered singular (or multiple) person pronoun (it works in English so why not Esperanto).

Of course none of this is accepted by "official" esperanto institutions (or the duolingo course) but I'm pretty confident that like with my native language; if I can write the way I feel is right, and my expression is clear and I'm understood. Anyone who doesn't like it can take a running jump. And because it seems that this is something more and more people are thinking about, and we'll probably come to a consensus eventually and the language will evolve.

After all, the only arguments against improving how gendering happens in esperanto are that it's not needed or useful (which, those of us who are trans/nb/etc know isn't true so I'll not entertain that one) or that we shouldn't change the language ever (which to my understanding is not the spirit in which it was created anyway - and if the language must stay flawed then why bother learning and using it? why even pretend to hold the hopes for which the language was named?)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

A lot of sources probably refer to it as gender free because it is gender free in the linguistic sense. English is also gender free if you can believe that. Some languages have up to sixteen genders, not because they have sixteen sexual identities, but because linguistic genders have nothing to do with sexual gender identity. Things like vegetables and dangerous animals have their own gender in some languages (and their own exceptions) because these categories are important to those cultures. See This Excellent Article

Monolingual English speakers have a difficult time with this because English does not have linguistic genders. The word "gender" means something very different to us.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Just to clarify terms (this might seem like splitting hairs, but I've noticed it elsewhere on this conversation as well) Sexual identity and gender identity are different things, one describing sexual attraction and the other describing what gender one identifies as, which doesn't have anything to do with sexuality.

When you say "linguistic gender" are you talking about the grammar surrounding gendered words not being differentiated? Like in spanish I know that certain words end with an -o or an -a depending on the gender of the group or person in question.

Also, despite not all linguistic genders being gender identities, there is a tendency in western culture to interpret terms like "hijra" in binary ways, even though that gender has a specific meaning in the culture it came from. Especially when it comes to dmab people who take on a "feminine" role, english tends to paint them as trans women when they might actually be occupying a special cultural space outside of western binary genders.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/lizsue
lizsue
  • 25
  • 25
  • 10
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 17

Linguistic genders definitely aren't all gender identities. They're just the categories all the nouns get put into.

For examples:

As the number of these categories increase, the odds of people calling them noun classes instead of genders increases too. ;)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

There's an economics report I read that found there is a correlation between having a language with a grammatical gender based on sex (like German, Irish and French but not English, Dutch or Swedish) and a reduced participation by women in the work force, even after controlling for a bunch of factors. It's by no means a conclusive study but it's an interesting result IMO.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

Sexual identity is not sexual orientation. Sex is a physical trait which people have. Sometimes people feel they have the wrong physical sex and want to correct it surgically. This is different from gender roles which are social constructs. Many people want to present their gender in a way that departs from traditional roles for their sex. They may wear different clothes for example. Sexual orientation is which sex or sexes one is attracted to. No mistake has been made except your assumptions.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

hmm, it sounds like the language we are using differs in some key ways. I definitely differentiate between genitalia and secondary sex characteristics, dysphoria surrounding those features, gender, and dysphoria surrounding social perception of gender. Someone who is transgender may or may not have either type of dysphoria, or none at all. Some people differentiate attraction based on sex, some on gender, some on neither or both.

There is also a difference between identity and presentation. Someone may identify as female, but present male for whatever reason, be it safety or personal preference. Some people's gender identities align with the sex they were assigned at birth, but express in a different manner for whatever reason, be it performance or pleasure.

It is a very interesting and interconnected web of things that create our identities and preferences, and though our bodies are a factor, they are not the only one. There is also some really interesting stuff out there about the biology of sex, and the variety of ways our bodies manifest. Here is a more detailed rundown of this idea: http://disruptingdinnerparties.com/2014/04/08/take-the-red-pill-the-truth-behind-the-biology-of-sex/

For a more detailed (somewhat aggressive, be warned!) rundown of gender and identity in society check out this link: http://theanarchistlibrary.org/library/asher-not-your-mom-s-trans-101

None of this is Esperanto related, but I hope it clarifies how complex these things are, and the reason for my initial inquiry about gender in Esperanto. There is such an extensive body of work and language surrounding these concepts that I've been exposed to in English, so I was curious what resources there are for people like me in Esperanto. As I learn more I'm sure more resources will become available to me. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

I will try to be diplomatic: As I read it, the presumption you made originally was that I was ignorant of the nuances of the topic, when in reality my understanding is that it is far more complex than equating sexual orientation with sexual identity (as can arise in physical dysphoria of primary or secondary features, as you describe) with social gender roles. Many of these dichotomies intersect each other, and the field of study as well as the evolving jargon is rather fluid.

But I made no reference to this in my original post. I made a very limited observation about linguistics that you then dragged back to your topic of personal interest.

If you look up Sexual Identity in Wikipedia, the very first thing you read at the top of the article is: "Not to be confused with Sexual orientation or Gender identity." That is all I was saying in my subsequent reply to you. They are not to be confused, and I haven't, but you seem to be assuming a great deal about other people's ignorance of these topics when they haven't even directly brought them up.

I am not being hostile, so please don't take it that way, but there seems to be a great deal of (albeit innocent) condescension in your posts. Maybe I come off this way too, sometimes, I don't know. I apologize if that is the case. But I find it rather exhausting to reply to these oblique arguments. I just think you (and for that matter, all of us) might be better served by spending some time in the library rather than arguing past each other in these forums. I virtually never post in forums like this, and I decided to binge on it this week to entertain myself. Now I remember why it is so toxic, and I regret it. Sometimes I read my own posts and feel like Jude Law listening to the tape of himself telling the Shania story over and over again in I Heart Huckabees.

I sincerely wish you good luck in all your endeavors. Best wishes.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Kathryn505734

It would be better if gender neutral was the default with male and female modifiers. I wish that were the case but Esperanto is not perfect There are many other areas where the language could be improved

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/earthkissed
earthkissed
  • 23
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4

great post. i have always had the same problems with esperanto. i would really like an egalitarian universal language to be made for the purposes of intercultural communication, but esperanto is not that language. it is euro-centric and male-centric. and unfortunately, esperanto is highly conservative and resistant to change, so it probably will never be reformed to be more up to date with modern values. additionally, its existence gets in the way of the success of other more inclusive constructed universal languages.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

I like what I've read about Lingwa de Planeta. I don't know that it has no problems but it seems to have avoided a number of the pitfalls that Esperanto didn't. Lojban as well except it is clearly intended to be a language that enforces clarity rather than an IAL (i.e. easy it ain't).

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Now we just have to wait for those ones to be put on Duolingo :P

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/m.tastic
m.tastic
  • 25
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 8
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 2

I need Lojban in my life...

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

IKR :/

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Oh no! That is very disheartening to read, I only knew Esperanto as a utopian language of awesomeness before I started actually learning it. Such is life, I suppose.

Is there a reason that Esperanto is so conservative? Would it be possible to create change through platforms like Duolingo? It seems like the people creating the course could incorporate some of the ideas explored here and on the wiki page for Esperanto gender reformation. Or is it not really salvageable? :(

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Mutusen
Mutusen
  • 17
  • 15
  • 12
  • 11
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 7
  • 3

Esperanto is not especially "conservative", it just behaves like other living languages: you can't just decide to change its grammar or its vocabulary, especially basic things such as the pronoun system and family words.

The other thing is that many people have ideas to "improve" Esperanto, and they often contradict each other. Most Esperanto speakers prefer having an imperfect language rather than dozens of "improved" versions.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

Part of the problem with proposing to change Esperanto is that there's like a ... fundamentalist core that resists any changes to the language. The argument is that if you change it you're effectively splintering a core language so has the result of reducing mutual intelligibility of Esperanto speakers and so sort of defeating its primary purpose. There's even a name for them but I can't remember it right now.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mihxal
mihxal
  • 11
  • 10

You apparently do not understand how languages work. Of course, you can try to change something in a language but you shouldn't be surprised that other people don't follow you. Try in English, you can name "mother" whatever you want and maybe some people will do the same but don't be surprised that the rest "regrets" any changes.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

Why did you put regrets in quote marks? It's not a word I used... At any rate Esperanto is different to a natural language. It's constructed and IIRC has an official body that could at least say certain changes are officially recognised (c.f. hen in Swedish). And to quote SophieHoulden in this thread who said what I was trying to far more elegantly than I could put it:

After all, the only arguments against improving how gendering happens in esperanto are that it's not needed or useful (which, those of us who are trans/nb/etc know isn't true so I'll not entertain that one) or that we shouldn't change the language ever (which to my understanding is not the spirit in which it was created anyway - and if the language must stay flawed then why bother learning and using it? why even pretend to hold the hopes for which the language was named?)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/orthohawk
orthohawk
  • 12
  • 10
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4

No. Esperanto used to be different to a "wild" language. Yes, it was constructed (by one person) but that one person "gave" the language to its speakers over 100 years ago and since then it has been the property of the entire community, not any one person or even group of persons (like the Akademio). Speaking of the Akademio, it does not propose changes or even issue any edicts forcing changes. What they do is declare that "hey, this feature is now so widely used and accepted by the community of Esperanto speakers, that we're putting the "official seal of approval" on it, on behalf of the community."

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/earthkissed
earthkissed
  • 23
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4

esperantism is very ideological which just makes it very conservative by nature (conservative as in resistant to change and hyper traditional to its history, not conservative as in right wing). even when you just described esperanto just now as a "utopian language of awesomeness", thats really ideological and unobjective. a universalist language CAN'T be ideological, the way esperanto is. it needs to be practical. it needs to be a rational project, one that is periodically assessed to make sure its actually meeting its stated purpose, and where its not it needs to be updated. esperanto is the opposite of that. its actually going to get even more backwards as time passes, because the rest of us and our languages are evolving towards more inclusivity, while esperanto is stuck in the 1800s.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cazort
cazort
  • 24
  • 21
  • 20
  • 12
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 5
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

I have found that Esperanto has been consistently advocated for, even I'd say "marketed", to me by users, on a sort of "idealistic" grounds...and proposing it as a universal language.

I agree that esperanto seems to be very conservative, in terms of the governing body resisting changes to it.

I think there is a certain contradiction, perhaps even hypocrisy, to Esperanto because of it. I want to use a universal language that is based on allowing to to change and evolve, and also that is specifically oriented to address problematic aspects of it, whether ones of gender, Eurocentrism, or other concerns. Esperanto seems to fail on all these counts. I agree with you that other languages are changing faster.

Like I'm nonbinary and use they/them pronouns in English, and most people actively embrace this. Yet Esperanto is still bumbling around with only male and female pronouns and has explicitly rejected attempts to reform it by introducing neutral pronouns. Pretty rotten if you ask me. And I'm not going to put in my time and resources to learning and supporting a language.

I'll learn traditional, mainstream languages like Spanish that have gendered aspects I don't like, but even then, there are more widely accepted gender-neutral pronouns, like I can at least use elle or ele if I want.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/OnesimusUnbound

How about Ido?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Dcarl1
Dcarl1
  • 25
  • 9
  • 9

I imagine any language can evolve to include non-gendered pronouns. English certainly has, in that you now see in print the use of new neutral pronouns like hir, vi, etc. - although rare they are gaining popularity. And it's certainly common these days in published print journalism to ask an individual what pronouns they prefer and then use those. That's just common courtesy these days.

What is more common is for a neutral third pronoun to be used singularly (they/their). If this does not exist in Esperanto, then one being invented seems to fit the bill just perfectly. It's an invented language after all. If English can invent pronouns, surely an invented language can!

Anyhow, a fascinating subject...

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cazort
cazort
  • 24
  • 21
  • 20
  • 12
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 5
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

What bothers me is that people have proposed gender reforms in Esperanto and they have been rejected.

I have little faith in a constructed language where the central authorities that govern the use of the language and its "official" structure, do not address things like this in a timely and thorough manner.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mihxal
mihxal
  • 11
  • 10

There is no authority which can "govern" Esperanto or any other language.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cazort
cazort
  • 24
  • 21
  • 20
  • 12
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 5
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

There is the Akademio de Esperanto which is officially charged with being stewards of the evolution of the language. My understanding is that it is the sole official regulating body of the language and that it does play this role.

There are other authorities, often not a single one, which govern other languages. Even a single organization like a publisher of a widely-used style guide or dictionary, can have a fairly powerful normative effect on a language. Like, if something new shows up as accepted in the American Heritage or Oxford dictionaries, or the MLA style guide, it's suddenly going to be accepted by a wide group of English teachers and professors at the college level, who rely on these authorities. And then this conditions a new generation of people to accept it as standard practice.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/orthohawk
orthohawk
  • 12
  • 10
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4

La Akademio doesn't work that way. It does not proclaim changes and then force them on Eperantujo. If anything it's the other way around.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cazort
cazort
  • 24
  • 21
  • 20
  • 12
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 5
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

Well, then it would bother me that the broader community doesn't support such changes, especially given how, at least with the people I've come into contact with, I've consistently seen Esperanto presented or even pushed as a sort of idealistic universal language that addresses shortcomings of existing languages.

That almost makes it worse, to me.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheRCPanda

When the language was created it was not intended to be "gender biased", that's just the way it worked out I suppose, he already had the idea that a simple ending would invert the gender of something, and one gender had to be the outcome.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

I definitely understand WHY it happened, it was made in the late 1800's, he was doing the best he could. I'm just curious what we should do about it now.

It reminds me of the repeated sadness about Sci-fi by women and girls: that these male authors were able to imagine worlds without fear or hate or modern problems, but not without the subjugation of women. It's a recurring problem in our society that I am very invested in.

Also, the example sentences have really been irking me for the reasons mentioned above. There's just too much left out, you know?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TheRCPanda

Ah yeah, I see what you mean, that must be frustrating, some sentence do frustrate me too, but in the end they were all made for our education!

The exclusion of women is sadly a very true issue, but as a problem in Esperanto it would be nice if you were able to use another article like "el" to make it female though.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Luko.
Luko.
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10
  • 8
  • 8
  • 3
  • 3
  • 3
  • 2

The article "la" isn't female ._. it is neutral, it doesn't even give information about number.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vikungen

I have also noticed that a lot of the example sentences are gender-biased. There are multiple examples, but especially when it comes to kissing, the example sentences seem to focus on men kissing women and girls, and rarely women kissing men. "also, a boy is a person" and "a man is a person" and "a grandfather is a person" are all sentences I have gotten multiple times, but never the female counterparts for those.

I don't even know what to think. Are you complaining about the Duolingo course because their random sentences weren't random enough or are you complaining about a whole language because it is the way it is?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

In that particular paragraph I am pointing out issues with Duolingo itself. It's possible I've just been getting a bad hand with the example sentences, but as Usagiboy7 pointed out below, it's likely that it's an unconscious bias on the part of the writers, as that has happened before. It takes conscious effort to go against the biases in our culture, and it takes someone pointing it out for it to be noticed and changed.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidStyIes
DavidStyIesPlus
  • 21
  • 21
  • 21
  • 20
  • 17
  • 17
  • 17
  • 8
  • 5
  • 250

Indeed, it does seems to be some way from, say, the Swedish course with sentences like "the priest kisses her wife" ;)

Mind you, even the Swedish course doesn't seem to teach the use of the gender neutral pronoun "hen", which is growing in popularity (as a new default, rather than specialist usage), unless the word appears in a skill quite late in the tree in one of the remaining skills I've not yet done.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/InsaneCule
InsaneCule
  • 11
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2

I was under the impression that hen is more of a recent thing....maybe the Swedish course just isn't there yet?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

But also yes, I am also pointing out some issues I'm noticing with Esperanto itself. Turns out there are some experimental options for nonbinary words and pronouns! very exciting.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mudcrab
mudcrab
  • 25
  • 22
  • 14
  • 5
  • 1648

Male seems to be the default, with female as a modifier. "Viro" to "Virino", "Knabo" to "Knabino".

Part of this is the direction it is taught. You could teach "Virino" first with the rule that you remove "in" for the masculine ending.

Changing the Modifier to a different sound would make it possibly more neutral

Esperanto does suffer from the same problem as some other languages: masculine/feminine without a proper neutral. Spanish has masculine/feminine, but no neutral. German has masculine/feminine/neutral, but they are inconsistent:

Words for "The": Der - Masculine. Die - Feminine and plural. Das - Neutral.

Der Junge - The boy. Das Mädchen - The girl. Der Mann - The man. Die Frau - The woman. Die Männer - The men. Die Frauen - The women.

And it can all turn into a mess with declension.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/DavidStyIes
DavidStyIesPlus
  • 21
  • 21
  • 21
  • 20
  • 17
  • 17
  • 17
  • 8
  • 5
  • 250

Well, "vir" means "man" in Latin, "patro" comes from "pater", "father", "knabo" is of Germanic origins meaning "boy", so teaching Esperanto's female forms first wouldn't change the fact that their roots are in masculine ideas.

And these words are all reflected in modern English, too; virility, paternity, knave, so it's not like their connotations are obscure.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

I actually noticed this as well, but for some reason it doesn't bother me as much as the lack of masculine and neutral modifiers.

In old old english, I know that Were- and Wo- were the gendered modifiers (hence Werewolf, which means manwolf) but by long before Shakespeare's time the Were- modifier had been dropped. I think that might have been something from the Germanic roots of Old English, but I am not sure.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

There were actually from wer and wif for man and woman respectively. Wer has cognates in modern English words like werewolf, of course, and also virile. Wifman became woman and wif also survives in words like wife. Wer was replaced by mann which meant person or ... well man—the whole male-as-default thing again.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/mihxal
mihxal
  • 11
  • 10

Some people wanted introduce new words for naming females (like "matro" for mother). But the traditional terms are well-established.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Oh dear, it seems I now want to run away from German. :P I'm hoping to nail down my grammar skills with Esperanto, as much of it is fairly straightforward (I think/hope). Maybe once I'm better with general grammar I can tackle things like german.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/orthohawk
orthohawk
  • 12
  • 10
  • 7
  • 5
  • 4

"der" is also twice feminine (genitive and dative) and once plural (dative), so to say "it's masculine" is a bit of a stretch.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Cymelo
Cymelo
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 20
  • 18
  • 15
  • 13
  • 10
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 7
  • 7
  • 3
  • 1289

I suggest you to watch this video and read the comments:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=89f93eFGreY

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

The comments on the thread are much better than the average youtube comment but that guy is ... well...

from about the 7:40 mark

Just random little thing though. A lot of people think... this is just all side note... people say that y'know Esperanto is sexist because we have a suffix for a female but none for a male, and then they say that's sexist towards women because they have a distinguishing suffix but couldn't it also be, like, seen as being sexist towards men because men don't get one. Like for instance a lot of people would say ino for a girl but then they'll say malino for a man so basically the man is built off of the female suffix rather than being in reverse. Just a random interesting thing I'm putting out there.

That's a pretty amazing amount of cluelessness right there.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/CuriousAtanaa

I am relying here to a message left on my stream by HeadTransplant, as I wish to keep the discussion public. Here is the message from HeadTransplant:

" I do not want to learn about sexual abnormalities. I am not interested in those issues when I look to these discussions. I am interested in learning Esperanto. Attacks against esperanto by various interested parties and agendas are a distraction to me and other learners. Use other forums to spread "awareness" of your rare condition or the rare conditions of your friends. I am also not interested in discussions of rare or strange religious beliefs or racist theories or political views or any other of what I consider to be digressions from language learning."

Here is my reply:

If you wish to ignore the discussion in question there is nothing stopping you. However I would like to point out two things.

  1. The original post was an inquiry as to how to express an unusual concept in Esperanto. The fact that you do not approve of the concept does not negate the validity of the question.

  2. You clearly state that you ‘do not want to learn about sexual abnormalities’. That is, of course, your right. However that does not mean that others have to be silent for your benefit. That would be a violation of free speech. It does mean however that people will be fully justified in ignoring your remarks as you hold strong views while being clearly, and deliberately, uninformed on the matter.

Finally, I would like to ask for you to show a little compassion. I do not understand much about the issues under discussion, feeling that one is between male and female is somewhat comprehensible to me, the feeling that one is something else entirely is not. That does not mean that such states do not exist, merely that my imagination fails. Just because we may find ideas unsettling or difficult does not mean they are wrong. Mi esperas ke vi memoros ĝin. I hope you will remember that.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HarloweRayne

I've noticed the gender-bias also along with racial bias. According to one offensive example picture they seem to also think full lips are "malbela!" Most of the esperanto courses seem to start out with the masculine nouns then the female nouns and as for countries according to their Eurocentric mindset, European countries rule! The authors of many esperanto courses seem to only mention briefly Africa as some politically-correct obligation. And the example pictures do not show any people of color let alone Black folks, which I've find to be tremendously off-putting. Thats why I find it difficult for me a non-binary Black person to find a place in the Esperanto world. Esperanto has the potential of becoming a beautiful language, useful to EVERYONE however I see it as a work in progress. Sed estas espero!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/vikungen

Kial vi ne verkis ĉi tiun afiŝon esperante?

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/junelac
junelac
  • 14
  • 11
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  • 6

I confess to be tired to this kind of complaints over and over. Yes, you have to add a female suffix for some words, not that doesn't make esperanto a sexist 'language', yes some words lacks of neutral, no there is really a neutral gender (hint the pronoun start with 'ĝ' and end with 'i').

I would like to kindly remind people that if they are too sensitive to these characteristics of the language or to some sentences in duolingo, they aren't obliged to learn it or to use this website. There is plenty of alternatives, so stop complain, just go and learn another language.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cazort
cazort
  • 24
  • 21
  • 20
  • 12
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 5
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

I am also nonbinary and I choose not to learn, support, or advocate for Esperanto on this grounds. When humans construct a new language, it's a wonderful opportunity to erase or fix the problematic elements of existing languages...and I see Esperanto as blowing a major opportunity. It does do away with some of the deeper aspects of grammatical gender, but it still seems unnecessarily gendered to me. There are multiple reasons to criticize the gendered constructs in Esperanto: it doesn't deal well with nonbinary people, and it also has been criticized from feminist perspectives as unnecessarily facilitating gender roles. I agree with both criticisms.

Learning a bunch of languages I have realized how other languages don't all have this problem. For example, Turkish has a single pronoun "O" for he/she/it, and Mandarin Chinese has "Ta1" which is only differentiated by gender in writing.

It bothers me not so much that Esperanto IS this way, but that I don't see a large movement to change it. There have been proposed reforms, but none of them have been accepted. You read a little about this history here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender_reform_in_Esperanto

I agree with you that the gender seems to contradict the idealistic vision of Esperanto.

Basically, why would I participate in learning, using, and advocating for a language that doesn't share my values? If I saw the central leadership in charge of Esperanto, addressing these issues in a thorough and timely manner, I might feel differently.

But there are other, deep problems I think with Esperanto, such as its Euro-centrism. If It were proposed or presented as a pan-European constructed language, then I might feel better about it, but as it stands, it seems to fall very fall short of the goals for a global, culturally-neutral language that could be roughly equally easily embraced by people from all the continents. It is very close in structure to Romance languages and to a degree other Indo-European languages, and very far, for example, from Native American languages, various Asian languages, or African languages.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thraenthraen
thraenthraen
  • 18
  • 14
  • 13
  • 10
  • 9
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3

I'm nonbinary as well, and I use ri for my pronouns in Esperanto. Ŝli is also sometimes used (both are unofficial), but it's like s/he in English, which I find still quite binary. I actually have considered using tiu (that one), as that's the most direct translation of what I use in Dutch (die), but it sometimes doesn't work well in the sentence, hence using ri.

And as has been already shared via this article, there are a few different proposed solutions to the issue of gendered kin words. I don't have as much experience using these, so I don't have a strong preference for any of the recommended solutions there yet, but I've been using ge- as a prefix to make a term gender neutral if I can't figure out how to express the idea without a kin term.

As for the sentences, you don't see all of the sentences when you do your lesson, just a random mix, and I've so far (finished the course and have all my skills "gold," so I've seen most sentences, I'd say) not noticed the course itself being heavily weighted in favour of males. I think you've likely just gotten unlucky with the ones that have come up for you.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

This may have been mentioned elsewhere, but I think a lot of confusion comes from the use of it in English. Most of the time it refers to non-humans in English (though not always-many people call young infants "it," this is often a regional thing), so translating ĝi as it is just not accurate. Ĝi is the epicene pronoun. If you look it up in vortaro.net you'll see that. It is for sexless or unspecified sexes. It is not for non humans specifically. This is just a mind trap of people who speak languages like English. A lot of problems come from unfamiliarity with Esperanto on its own terms or English-centric thinking.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Interesting! I don't think thraenthraen mentioned gxi, unless I'm reading it wrong, but I appreciate the extra knowledge! "It" can be used to dehumanize certain trans people (usually trans women) but other trans people use "it" as a pronoun. Not sure if that would translate because, as you said, the direct translation doesn't mean the same thing. I'll definitely keep gxi in mind while I learn more Esperanto! :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

Recently came across this thread on Lernu which is quite extensive and for the most part is written by more experienced (and, seemingly, more geographically diverse) users than you will typically find (currently) in a forum like this. Hope it is helpful.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

That makes sense about the Sxli being still binary, I was wondering about other singular pronouns. I tend to use "this one/that one" in english anyhow, so Tiu should also work for me, but as you said it won't work for everything.

Thanks! :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 17
  • 14
  • 8
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 20

Ah yes! This one and that one are familiar to me as well, along with this person and that person.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/thraenthraen
thraenthraen
  • 18
  • 14
  • 13
  • 10
  • 9
  • 7
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3

Huh, I'd never heard of anyone using this one/that one in English. Cool! (I use they in English.) It's always cool to hear about other gender-neutral ways folks use to refer people. :)

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Just like Tiu, it doesn't work all the time, but I find it is a nice way to refer to my nonbinary and questioning friends that sidesteps direct gendering. I don't really refer to MYSELF as "this one" because that seems strange, but when people refer to me in certain contexts it totally rocks. :) Generally I use they/them/theirs in English. I'm excited for becoming more confident in Esperanto and tinkering with pronouns there.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

If the sentences represent a cross section of reality (in the U.S.) then 96.6% of them will be heterosexual. The content of the sentences reflects the reality of our culture and (probably) the desire of the authors to avoid topics that will alienate some (overly-sensitive and bigoted) people who might, say, prohibit their children from using Duolingo and lock them in a basement because they saw a "gay" sentence on the computer and it let the devil into their house. I celebrate your right to advocate for your cause but not every venue is appropriate or effective for advocacy. Don't forget that Duolingo is primarily meant to help people from other nations learn English. Some of these may live in oppressive regimes where such topics are taboo. The primary mission is to help these people learn languages, not advance a social agenda.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/sierscarf

Just because we are minority does not mean that we do not deserve recognition. If avoiding controversial topics was a goal of Duolingo, then they have done a terrible job of it with other languages (such as Swedish, which I believe contains many same-gendered pairings in example sentences) and I see no reason why Esperanto should be an exception.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/cazort
cazort
  • 24
  • 21
  • 20
  • 12
  • 12
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 5
  • 4
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2

I think that by not depicting any "gay" sentence, you are actually supporting an agenda--the agenda of heteronormativity that completely erases the existence of gay people or any people who deviate from norms of sexuality, romantic orientation, or gender identity or expression.

I've seen a lot of competing and conflicting surveys and statistics about the prevalence of LGBTQ people in the population, but the figure you give here is one of the lowest I've ever heard. But even then, if you accept that figure wiithout questioning, and you really want to make DuoLingo reflective of that, then you would include 3.4% of the references to people or relationships as "gay" ones.

Also, it's an important thing because gay people exist, and if you go into other cultures, you're going to encounter them...and if you don't know the words and terminology that people use to refer to these people and these relationships, you're going to be missing out.

I think that the moral viewpoints of these relationships is kind of irrelevant. DuoLingo already does depict all sorts of things, like there are sentences that depict illegal activities, even violence, some of it shows up on forums and stuff. People usually just laugh at it, it's just sentences. If someone has an issue with seeing a sentence about gay people or relationships, then that's their own problem, and if they lock their kids in the basement then that's the role of Child Protective Services to intervene and take that child out of that environment. This is just a silly concern.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/seveer
seveer
  • 20
  • 13
  • 7
  • 6
  • 6
  • 2

The figure I cite is from a recent, scientific poll from a well respected company and is not meant to understate or marginalize the population of those who self-identify as LGBT, but merely to give context. That is, it is not surprising if overt references to LGBT relationships do not appear in even 1 of 10 sentences, from a statistical perspective, even if ALL those sentences were overtly about sexual identity or overtly sexual relations, let alone if they are about all the other topics a beginning course must cover. Even if the survey grossly understates the population by more than 100%, that argument still holds.

Thankfully, this historically marginalized community has discovered its own powerful political voice in recent decades and is getting a great deal of public attention, deservedly, for its issues, and making a lot of progress. This is a welcome change. However, I think that this amplification of LGBT interests in the media makes the lack of such a presence in other spheres seem conspicuous where in fact it is not. The vast majority of speech need not be directly related to sexual identity. There is little that I value more than free speech. As long as it is voluntary.

The second point I would make is that it is not at all clear to me that this course has actually been studied in any systematic way by any of the people claiming that it does not contain sentences which apply to LGBT relationships. Many sentences are ambiguous, and it is hardly surprising that, if you have decided to assume an underlying baseline of heteronormativity, you will find just that when there is not clear evidence to the contrary. In reality, of course, one of the most objectionable things you can do in real life is to keep overtly referencing the sexual identity of a friend or acquaintance who may be different from yourself. Yet that seems to be precisely what is demanded in this context. No doubt if this was handled indelicately there would be equal outrage from a cohort of people who don't want to be pandered to or classified in this way.

And as you comment on normativity, you deploy big assumptions not only about what, exactly, constitutes sexual identity (should we even talk about romantic relationships, when there is a constituent of asexual-identifiers? When does this devolve into unending deference to a dwindling minority who demand to be referenced in a specific way and simultaneously insulated from the very real fact that exclusionary or unwelcoming cultural assumptions exist in spite of the fact that they may be unfair), but about the role of the state in the family (Child Protective Services), that belie a peculiar set of notions which are not universally held and should not be enshrined in a language or a pedagogy, whether you or I personally agree with them or not.

I won't try to defend every decision made in this course. I didn't design it and can't imagine how difficult it is to please everyone. I certainly think improvements could be made to address your concerns. I don't recall being taught a word for "gay" in this course. This seems like a big omission. But then I don't recall being taught a word for plumber or electrician or bricklayer. To say that your identity is more important is to make assumptions every bit as large and unfounded as an underlying heteronormativity. Is a devoted trade-unionist not entitled to think that his occupational identity in solidarity with his brotherhood is every bit as essential to his identity as his sexual concerns?

It is my position that a fair and considered analysis would not find any insidious intent or effect where you seem to see it. If it passively reflects the status quo, as distasteful as it may be to you, well that is what language does. It is supposed to be transparent. Esperanto as Positivism is not really a vital force here and now. Many would argue that that is actually a very bad idea.

I think that one's battles must be chosen. I think separating from or self-alienating from a community that is largely accepting and diverse is cutting off the nose to spite the face. On the other hand, well informed criticism from within is necessary to any vital body.

I will be donating blood in a small show of solidarity with the victims of the hate crimes in Orlando tomorrow. I encourage all readers to support your local communities in a gracious spirit in the manner of your choosing.

Best Regards.

2 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/somelauw
somelauw
  • 17
  • 13
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2

There are about 24 roots words that default to masculine and even some of those can be avoided by using different roots like using infano instead of knabo.

3 years ago

https://www.duolingo.com/RadioboyDuo

I like to use "vir" as the prefix for male. Man > Virhomo Human > Homo

In this case we need a prefix for female. Maybe -Vin? -In?

Another way of doing it will be using another sufix for male. The most used is -icx Man > Viricxo Woman > Virino Human > Viro

The problem with this one is that we have 2 words for human/neutral and I don't think that is logical or good.

I preffer the prefix one.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/TerraSulla

English distinguishes between "human" and "person", what's wrong with that? Besides, you could always just stop using viro and let it become an archaism, sticking only with homo, homino and homiĉo. The word for "bull" used to be bovoviro, but no one uses that anymore.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Lingvulon
Lingvulon
  • 11
  • 10
  • 9
  • 7
  • 7
  • 6
  • 4
  • 4
  • 2

Saluton! I realize this thread is two years old now but I'd like to add on the topic of Esperanto and egalitarianism. Almost all nouns in Esperanto are lexically neuter, not lexically masculine, save for familial terms and some dated terms for animals. It's my understanding that the -in- affix for feminine exists because it's more efficient. The reason this affix exists for feminine and not masculine is because this is very common in European languages. It makes more sense to have the null affix for one gender and -in- affix for the other than to have one affix for each gender and one obsolete root. The -in- affix is only absolutely necessary for clarification of gender as well, patro can be understood to mean father or parent depending on the context (as opposed to using gepatro). Outside of kin terms, I can't think of many contexts where a noun would be understood as explicitly masculine or feminine. That being said, I do find many proposed reforms of Esperanto interesting to say the least. I don't recommend changes to the grammar of Esperanto. Esperanto has already provided us with tools to create new words by affixing. A non-binary pronoun already exists- ĝi. It's up to you whether or not you want to make personal changes to Esperanto, and if you are understood by others, that's even better. If other esperantists understand you and adopt new grammatical particles, that's great. Esperanto is free now to develop and evolve the way a natural language does. Nobody is in charge of it. What would not be good is if a bunch of people began speaking in a different manner that was confusing or unintelligible or difficult to learn, because that is against the purpose of Esperanto. I see lots of komencantojn back these changes but they soon figure out that there are already tools included in Esperanto itself as workarounds. Ĝis!

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/HappyEvilSlosh
HappyEvilSlosh
  • 25
  • 25
  • 23
  • 22
  • 21
  • 13
  • 11
  • 11
  • 11
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 9
  • 7
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 2
  • 2
  • 5

It's my understanding that the -in- affix for feminine exists because it's more efficient. The reason this affix exists for feminine and not masculine is because this is very common in European languages. It makes more sense to have the null affix for one gender and -in- affix for the other than to have one affix for each gender and one obsolete root.

I don't agree with the efficiency comment. If you are required to specify male or female you are required to give that information even if it isn't pertinent to the message you are trying to convey. If I say "The police officer arrests the criminal" Does it matter what the gender of the police officer or the criminal is? As such the root wouldn't be obsolete if you didn't have to specify male or female, it would just mean that you wouldn't have to specify the gender if you didn't want to, as is currently the situation.

Plus an implication of having male as default you're basically saying maleness is the normal state of being and femaleness is the notable alternative. Most people miss this because so many European languages do the same but consider the following equivalent situation. Say someone created an IAL but in this language instead of needing to specify gender you were required to specify race. The root word was always interpreted as referring to a white person, but if you were talking about a black person you had to add a suffix. And if you wanted to talk about someone of a third race tough, you have to either refer to them as black or white. I think most people would find that pretty racist, and similarly the situation in Esperanto is pretty sexist.

1 year ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Christiaan511903

do you want gender neutral roosters and hens? do you want roosters to lay eggs and hens to have combs? maybe chickens should wear snail costumes they are hermaphroditic arent they?

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 17
  • 14
  • 8
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 20

Christiaan511903,

Your comment showcases a misapplication of concept due to lack of attention or understanding to context. Attempting to drag a discussion about pronouns to the realm of the absurd does not alter the circumstances in which gender neutral pronouns exist in some languages and are advocated for in others.

If you plan to go on a phobic bash-crusade, it won't be here. Duolingo intends to provide a safe and inclusive learning environment and provides protection from such things under the Community Guidelines. You can discuss language, you can disagree with someone's approach to language, but you cannot do it however you like in these forums. There are restrictions in how ones is allowed to go about doing so. In other words, make it about language, rather than crafting insults.

PS Chickens and snails already have gender-neutral terms, they are "chicken" and "snail."

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/somelauw
somelauw
  • 17
  • 13
  • 10
  • 10
  • 10
  • 9
  • 6
  • 5
  • 5
  • 5
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2

In English, there are gendered and neutral words for a human, namely "man", "woman" and "human" and for a chicken, namely "rooster/cock", "hen" and "chicken".

In Esperanto, "koko" is a (neutral) chicken and the gendered variants are created by prefixes ("virkoko") and/or suffixes ("kokino", "kokiço").

There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, "viro" means man and "virino" means woman, but the root word isn't neutral but masculine. To express the idea "human" in a neutral way, you either need the prefix "ge-", (which is somewhat non-canon for singular nouns) or a different root-word.

7 months ago

https://www.duolingo.com/Usagiboy7
Usagiboy7
Mod
  • 25
  • 17
  • 14
  • 8
  • 6
  • 5
  • 4
  • 4
  • 3
  • 2
  • 20

Thanks for the info somelauw!

7 months ago