Re: Gender of the ancestors (was: Laádan and woman's speak)
|From:||DOUGLAS KOLLER <laokou@...>|
|Date:||Tuesday, May 23, 2000, 5:19|
Resending 'cause it seems to have been lost
> From: "John Cowan"
> > DOUGLAS KOLLER scripsit:
> > > And neither-nor languages. Chinese has "zu3guo2" (in Japanese"sokoku")
> > > referring to the ancestral land, or at the very least, thegrandparents'
> > > land.
> > I thought zu2 meant male ancestor.
> None of my dictionaries cite etymological sources, but none of them cite
> "zu3" as being intrinsically male (though China is certainly a patrilineal
> society). The standard definitions go (I translate): 1) Direct relationsof
> one's mother and father in the previous generation (i.e. grandparents.Here,
> like the English, it does not distinguish between patrilinear or
> matrilinear, though in common parlance one would talk about "ye2ye"
> (Grandpa) and "nai3nai" (Grandma) on the father's side, and "wai4gong1"and
> "wai4po2" respectively on the mother's side). 2) The common name forpeople
> who have died in historical times (i.e. ancestors).
> I feel it's epicene. That epicene words like "ren2" and "zu3" and "ta1"have
> been historically interpreted as masculine (since males are the only ones
> that count) is a historico-cultural (culturo-historical?) consideration,not
> intrinsic to the words themselves. I defy you to find native speakers who
> will commit to saying that "ren2" means "man", "zu3" means "maleancestor",
> and "ta1" means "he". I personally find these even less gender-chargedthan,
> say, the English expression, "Man's inhumanity to Man." where "Man" refers
> to greater humanity, both male and female. Sure, a Sui Dynasty reader may
> have taken these terms to refer for the most part to males, since it would
> be men writing predominately for men, but I don't find these terms anymore
> gender-fixed than the English word "analyst" (though our own biases may
> place gender constraints on the term [or not]). So until someone can shovea
> etymological dictionary in my face that says "_male_ ancestor", I'msticking
> with epicene.
> As for"zu3guo2", I've most often seen it translated into English as
> "motherland", but I always assumed that that was Russian influence due to
> the warm, fuzzy, communist brethren feeling supposed to exist betweenChina
> and the USSR back in the 40s and 50s. In and of itself, maybe "homeland"is
> a better translation, though there are slightly different connotations in
> English. (Vaterland vs. Heimat?).