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Relative Genders-Comments

From:Jim Grossmann <jimg@...>
Date:Saturday, March 20, 1999, 1:42
>All this talk about nouns varying by possessor has got me thinking - are >there any conlangs (or natlangs) with "relative gender", by which I mean >that their meaning depends on your gender. For instance, suppose that >-e was "same" and -i was "different", while amik- was "friend", thus >"amike" would mean "male friend" for a male, and "female friend" for a >female, while "amiki" would mean the opposite.
JimG -- I think I've heard of something like this in some language's kinship system. In fact, I may have heard about it on this list. As far as relative genders go, I think there'd be some contexts in which the gender would have to be "absolute." Relative gender would introduce extremely impractical ambiguity into sentences like these: "People trust female babysitters more than male babysitters." "Only the female of the species has poison." "The plastic surgeon specializes in the reconstruction of injured male genetalia." "We shouldn't have female combat troops." In addition, relative gender cries out for a specific constructed cultural context that would motivate it, what with the interpersonal importance of gender. Jim