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109

"Guys" can be used in English as gender neutral to refer to a group of mixed gender. You will even hear women refer to other women as "guys." The closest linguistic equivalent with a feminine tilt would be "gals". "Guys and gals" is a rather informal variant of "ladies and gentlemen". (Note the reverse order.) Edit: As noted by @kitukwfyer in the question ...


55

I often use folks when addressing a group, both in public speaking and in email. Admittedly, it is a bit, er, folksy for business email, but it saves me time in thinking about the issue. Edit: another informal term is gang. For email, I would only use this for colleagues within my department or team, and not to those outside of the team. e.g. "Hey gang, ...


38

Certainly many usage guides have advised against use of this "singular they" on various "logical" grounds. Nevertheless, singular they has long been part of the English language, and there are various posts on Language Log giving examples of it being used in the Bible, by Shakespeare, by the president, by the Canadian Department of Justice, etc.. The ...


37

That is quite true: there is no such word. In English we have to use several words to express the precise nature of the kind of relationship you describe. The words girlfriend and boyfriend usually indicate that the people concerned are rather more than friends, although I believe ladies will sometimes refer to their female friends as girlfriends with no ...


28

Wikipedia is pretty accurate on this one: The origins of this practice are not certain, and it is currently in decline (though still more common for ships, particularly in nautical usage, than for countries). In modern English, calling objects "she" is an optional figure of speech, and is advised against by most journalistic style guides such as the ...


26

Well, obviously you can't translate many things literally, as you would constantly end up with sentences such as "it gave it to it" in English, where in the source language with genders you have a perfectly clear "she gave it to him". However, there are usually easy ways around this, the most obvious one being: kick out the pronouns and replace them with ...


26

Especially in these rapidly changing times, we must be careful not to make false assumptions about our addressees. For this reason, it is important to use broad, inclusive appelations like sentient life forms and beings. If there is a chance that one or more of the group members may have ceased to be by the time your utterance has been processed, you ...


26

I don't think you can find a term that is entirely symmetrical, because the cultural concepts of romantic and sexual pursuit aren't symmetrical. Identical behavior in a man and a woman will usually be interpreted differently in most cultures I know. The reason it's hard for you to find a non-perjorative female counterpart to casanova, and the reason so many ...


19

Most people will have no problem with calling her proprietor. Actually some people will reject the idea that you need a female form of the word anyway. Why would the word proprietor only be applicable to a man, and not simply to a person? So actually, calling her a proprietor is the safer and better option. Don't use an -ess or -ix version. Legally it ...


18

Casanova does not have a consistent definition but here are a few typical examples: Casanova — 1) A man who is amorously and gallantly attentive to women. 2) A promiscuous man; a philanderer. Casanova — a man with a reputation for having many amorous adventures; rake; Don Juan. Casanova — lover; especially a man who is a ...


17

Just out of curiosity I have done some quick statistics. I downloaded the following books from Project Gutenberg Men writers Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain Moby Dick, or, the whale by Herman Melville The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle The Picture of Dorian Gray by ...


17

It used to be that "master" was the word for a man who was in authority or in control, and "mistress" was the word for a woman in such a position. I presume that "mistress" came to be used for a woman that a married man was having an affair with on the idea that she is controlling and ruling him through her seductive powers. This usage has come to overshadow ...


17

In the industry, the accepted term is fisherman, plural fishermen. There was a campaign in Canada to adopt the word fisher, but the women in the profession largely refused to have anything to do with it: [F]ederal efforts to replace fisherman with fisher in government documents, coupled with a high-profile Supreme Court decision on native fishing rights, ...


16

This isn’t really an answer to the question, but I wanted to point out that grammatical gender is but one type of noun class system, and non-Indo-European languages often have completely different and far more complex systems of noun classes. One example from the Wikipedia article on noun classes, The Dyirbal language is well known for its system of four ...


15

Yes to all of your questions: Old English had three genders, each of which had their own definite articles and case endings (though the masculine and neuter were largely the same). If you look at the Wikipedia article on Old English Declensions, you can see sample declensions for masculine, feminine, and neuter nouns in their five cases, as well as examples ...


15

There's a joke in French that it's pretty much impossible to translate into English because of this problem: So one guy says to another "Regard, le mouche". The other guy replies "C'est la mouche". The first guy turns, impressed: "You've got good eyes." OK. It's not a great loss to the English language, but still...


14

She would feel a "sisterly love" — the love of a sister — for her brother. A mother feels "motherly love" for her children, etc. The reason for possible confusion stems from the use of "brotherly love" to describe in a general way the love of human beings for each other, similar to the way "mankind" also includes women.


14

No. It is not (necessarily) a typo. The following examples are all perfectly acceptable uses (at least grammatically) of the possessive form of women. Women's rights Women's work Women's intuition Women's gossip I am unable to answer your question about whether or not Firefox is sexist.


13

a) It's correct to use the term "actor" for males and females b) It's an international phenomenon c) For origins and purpose of the change, see the Wikipedia entry for actor: The word actor refers to a person who acts regardless of gender, while actress refers specifically to a female person who acts; therefore a female can be referred to by either ...


13

The usage note under blond in the NOAD entry is explicit: The spellings blonde and blond correspond to the feminine and masculine forms in French. Although the distinction is usually retained in Britain, American usage since the 1970s has generally preferred the gender-neutral blond. The adjective blonde may still refer to a woman’s (but not a man’s) ...


13

I suspect because the phrase was only needed for women and widower is a much later literary invention. Widow had a lot of legal implications for property, titles and so on — if the survivor was a woman these got complicated before women had as many rights. If the survivor was a man in the middle ages it didn't really make much difference — he ...


13

Properly speaking, these terms are not exclusive; for example, it is perfectly correct to describe a steer as a "castrated bull". However, "bull" is certainly not the usual term to use for a castrated bull. This is due to a process that's sometimes called "Q-based narrowing" whereby preference for a more-specific term causes avoidance of a less-specific one ...


12

Wikipedia (citing A history of the English language by Richard M. Hogg and David Denison) suggests that the loss of gender in English was "due to a general decay of inflectional endings and declensional classes by the end of the 14th century" as evidenced by increasing use of the gender-neutral identifier þe (the or thee). "Why" is, of course, a difficult ...


12

Contrary to the other answers, I think "she left me for another woman" is perfectly fine, and does not imply anything about her earlier relationships (other than with the speaker). It is true that in a sentence like "she left me for another man", the another means other than myself, a meaning which does not apply (since the speaker is male) to "she left me ...


12

"Gals" is, while traditional, also diminutive, patronizing, and potentially chauvinistic. It is possible to use "gals" in certain contexts, but these are carefully circumscribed. As others note above, women are commonly seen to use "guys" among themselves and that's a safe default when in doubt.


12

Paramour may be the word you're looking for although it can be used for either sex. an illicit lover; a person with whom someone is having a romantic or sexual relationship and especially a secret or improper relationship. Her husband found a love letter from her paramour.


12

You are right, there is no word to distinguish between a male and female friend, and 'friend' is not the only word that runs into this problem. You, or your conversation partner, can infer the gender of the person you're talking about from subsequent or previous use of words such as 'she'/'her'/'hers'. You can say 'female friend' though in my opinion that ...


10

Some common things to watch out for: Avoid using gender-specific nouns when neutral ones are available. For example, use human instead of man/woman. In the absence of neutral words, include both sexes. For instance, you should say alumni and alumnae instead of simply alumni to refer to both men and women who have graduated from a certain institution. Use ...


10

Assuming a male speaker, She left me for another woman implies she left the man for a woman, having already been with women in the past. The “another” refers to the fact that there already are women in the woman’s past, and the one she left the man for is one more. She left me for a woman implies she left the man for a woman, and this is the ...


10

As a reader, my first choice would usually be to take whoever is subject of the main clause (Alice) to remain the subject in the following clause; but I could never be sure, and it might be ambiguous in many cases. There is no real solution. The only way out is by recasting the sentence such that the right reference will become clear from context. You will ...



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