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Poll: Do you confuse genders when speaking in your non-native language(s)?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 10:36
SITE STAFF
Oct 6, 2016

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Do you confuse genders when speaking in your non-native language(s)?".

This poll was originally submitted by Catharine Cellier-Smart. View the poll results »



 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
Sometimes Oct 6, 2016

It's very common for English speakers speaking Spanish, as there is no visible gender in our own language, at least as far as I know. The worst offenders are words which end in -a, so according to the rules, they should be feminine (for example a map, "mapa").
However, I'm told that my written Spanish is getting better and better and I rarely make gender or subjunctive mistakes nowadays. The spoken language is another question entirely - I think that being slipshod is part of the nature of speech. And one's competence can be altered by situations - for example if you're flustered in some kind of stressful scenario, for example after traffic accident, you will probably tend to make more mistakes than if you are cool, calm and collected.


 

Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:36
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
In French but not in Russian Oct 6, 2016

Yes, I do sometimes confuse genders in French. In Russian, though, it is less of a problem, as the ending of the word indicates the gender. If it ends in 'a' or 'ya' it's feminine, 'o' or 'e' are neuter, and most other nouns are masculine. There are a few exceptions to make things more interesting, but it's definitely easier than trying to remember lists of words with 'le' and 'la'.

 

Julian Holmes  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 03:36
Member (2011)
Japanese to English
Never Oct 6, 2016

Because there are no genders. Very little, besides register and gender-specific terms and ways of speaking, to indicate male or female.

In fact, in most cases, there is little to signify singular/plural, subjects and objects are omitted, and you have to wait to the end of the sentence - if the sentence is actually finished, that is - to see if it is negative or positive. Sentences, however, are packed with meaning if you can figure out the signal words and nuances, and read between the words and the lines.

It's a very elusive language and you have to be a sleuth to figure out true meaning and what's going on. If it's any consolation, it can cause problems for the Japanese, too, since the language can be hidden in smoke and clouds.

Japanese ain't like any European language. icon_eek.gif


 

Kenny Barclay  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 19:36
Member (2016)
Spanish to English
Ha! Yeah, not really. Oct 6, 2016

I went for rarely. I suppose Spanish is not the worst language - fairly well signposted.

Reminds me of this though:
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/2014/02/26

(Gotta love Calvin)

[Edited at 2016-10-06 09:16 GMT]


 

Teresa Borges
Portugal
Local time: 18:36
Member (2007)
English to Portuguese
+ ...
Rarely, in French Oct 6, 2016

After 30 years living in Belgium and speaking French everyday it still happens, though rarely...

 

Sophie Dzhygir  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 19:36
Member (2007)
German to French
+ ...
Sometimes Oct 6, 2016

Helen Hagon wrote:

Yes, I do sometimes confuse genders in French. In Russian, though, it is less of a problem, as the ending of the word indicates the gender. If it ends in 'a' or 'ya' it's feminine, 'o' or 'e' are neuter, and most other nouns are masculine. There are a few exceptions to make things more interesting, but it's definitely easier than trying to remember lists of words with 'le' and 'la'.
I'm fully with you, Helen.
I answered "sometimes" as an average. English has no genders, so no confusion. Russian has little room for confusion as Helen said, so it doesn't happen often. I may, though, make mistakes in words declination even when the gender is right, but this is quite another question. And I make a lot more mistakes in German, of course. There's a whole lot of words where I'll never get wrong, and a whole lot of other words where I usually just guess (mostly between masculine and neutral). There are many German words which gender I used to know perfectly well at school time and which I tend to forget over time.

PS : just remembered one anecdote : when sending invoices to clients, I often write something along the line of "this is my invoice for the past month". In German, I used to write "fürs Monat", until one of my oldest and best customers told me (after some year of working together): "by the way, Sophie, Monat is masculine". icon_lol.gif A good rush of shame, but I'm so grateful she told me and I stopped writing such rubbish to clients! I often double check words in German correspondence, now icon_wink.gif

[Modifié le 2016-10-06 09:30 GMT]


 

Christine Andersen  Identity Verified
Denmark
Local time: 19:36
Member (2003)
Danish to English
+ ...
Regularly, if not frequently Oct 6, 2016

Danish has two grammatical genders, known as 'common' and 'neutral', and they are more or less arbitrary, at least to a foreigner. They have practically nothing to do with biological gender. Men and women take common gender grammatically, like boys and girls and the imported English word 'baby', but a child is neuter.

A table is neuter, but a chair is common. Animals vary - many take common gender, but sheep and donkeys are neuter, and so is the generic word for animal...

If in doubt, one can guess at 'common' - purely statistically, more words take common than neuter, and imported words tend to be allocated to the common gender. Occasionally both genders are accepted in the official dictionary, but in other cases, there are homonyms with different meanings according to the gender.
One way out is to use the plural if possible, but that causes a new set of problems if you don't know which plural ending to apply...

You can sometimes get away with slurring the pronunciation, but that is an art too, and best left to the natives.


 

Mike Sadler  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 18:36
Spanish to English
+ ...
I did see a gender quiz on the puzzles page of a French newspaper once... Oct 6, 2016

... and that gave me some comfort.
I am expert at getting genders wrong in Spanish, French and Russian. My favourites are words that have the same root but change gender as they cross the Pyrenees, like sang in French and sangre in Spanish. For perfectly logical reasons, a Fiesta (the car) is masculine in Spanish but feminine in French, and so on.
But I can confidently say that I never get genders wrong in Japanese, for the reasons Julian gave above. I've been learning Japanese for two years now and either I've got a lot slower or it's jolly hard!


 

Chris S  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Swedish to English
+ ...
Sometimes Oct 6, 2016

I've never been very good with faces, or figures

 

Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 03:36
Member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Other Oct 6, 2016

honestly I try to be neutral as much as possible.

 

Chie. I  Identity Verified
Japan
Local time: 03:36
Member (2013)
English to Japanese
+ ...
Well, Oct 6, 2016

I never thought Japanese can be elusive. we are very context bound,
which is more clear than indicating things in male/female or singular/plural



Julian Holmes wrote:

Because there are no genders. Very little, besides register and gender-specific terms and ways of speaking, to indicate male or female.

In fact, in most cases, there is little to signify singular/plural, subjects and objects are omitted, and you have to wait to the end of the sentence - if the sentence is actually finished, that is - to see if it is negative or positive. Sentences, however, are packed with meaning if you can figure out the signal words and nuances, and read between the words and the lines.

It's a very elusive language and you have to be a sleuth to figure out true meaning and what's going on. If it's any consolation, it can cause problems for the Japanese, too, since the language can be hidden in smoke and clouds.

Japanese ain't like any European language. icon_eek.gif


 

EvaVer  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:36
Member (2012)
Czech to English
+ ...
Not directly Oct 6, 2016

that is to say, not for the word as such, but in the following sentence(s), I may forget what the gender was. This is worse when translating, especially when the source also has genders and the gender is different (three sentences further on, they just say "she" for example, which pushes me to say the same in the target language). Or for words that I seldom use.

 

DZiW
Ukraine
English to Russian
+ ...
Rarely and only the first time Oct 6, 2016

Some names are rather ambiguous (especially in the USA), others are just quite exotic for me, whereas politically-corrected unisex trends with mental and physical fashion freebies make it even harder to guess who is talking. Sometimes it doesn't matter, sometimes it does... Does'n'buck swim, anyway?)

 

Asmanizan
Malaysia
Local time: 02:36
Malay to English
+ ...


Posted via
ProZ.com Mobile


no confusion in Malay language Oct 7, 2016

As a Malay native speaker, I dont have any problem identifying gender-related term. However I do sometimes have small issue with gender related reference in Arabic .

 
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