French is weird

In French grammar, nouns reflect the gender of the object to which they are referring and male dominates female in mixed settings – so a group of friends with nine women and one man would nevertheless be termed with the masculine ‘amis’.

Activists have long pushed for textbooks to add an ‘e’ to feminise certain words, making them more inclusive. In their preferred teaching materials, “élus”, French for elected officials, becomes “élu.e.s”, for example.

Given that the elected are a pack of female genitalia you’d have thought this would be a feminine collective noun…..

22 thoughts on “French is weird”

  1. They’re copying the Germans who have introduced all manner of ugly constructions to try to do the same thing.

    It’s annoying and they should just all stop it.

  2. “In French nouns reflect the gender of the object to which they are referring.” This is true, but only in the sense that the grammtical genders male and female are arbitrarliy referred to by the same adjectives as those that distinguish men from women (or that used to in Saneworld.) Anyone who thinks otherwise is a dick (“une verge”) or a pussy (“un vagin”).

  3. Amusingly the female genitalia words – both the usual short C one and the more politer V one – are masculine

  4. and all this even though grammatical gender is nothing to do with male or female. A perfect illustration of 21st century Western ‘Progressivism’.

  5. @FrancisT
    Seems to be a feature of Latin languages. In Spanish the colloquial term for the male appendage is polla (Not be confused with the masculine pollo – chicken – particularly in the butchers) Whereas the corresponding female item – chocho (often written xoxo ) takes the masculine ending.

  6. Bloke in North Dorset

    This is what abacab is referring to and it really threw me when I came across it:

    Guten Tag! You may have seen words like this in German: Einwohner*innen, Mieter*innen, Lehrer*innen. What’s the little star in the middle all about? This is called the Gendersternchen, and it’s what we’re going to talk about in today’s post.

    Another issue people have with German separating into male and female, is that this largely ignores other genders/people who do not identify as either male or female. So the German language now has something that includes people of all genders in the written word – das Gendersternchen.

    Literally ‘little gender star’, das Gendersternchen is an asterisk that sits between the word stem and the feminine ending. So now our plural word die Lehrer (teachers) becomes die Lehrer*innen, which is designed to include people of all genders. It also works for singular words, so if you want to talk about a teacher but not use the male (Lehrer) or female (Lehrerin), you can write: Lehrer*in.

    As someone trying to get to grips with German grammar shit like this is the last thing I need.

  7. The Meissen Bison

    In French grammar, nouns reflect the gender of the object to which they are referring

    Adjectives agree with their nouns, certainly, but most ‘things’ are (mercifully) gender neutral. And what about trans-words like “manche” which when feminine has one set of possible meanings, when masculine has another set of possible meanings and when feminine and capitalized has yet another specific meaning.

    As for littering inclusivity full stops all over the place: Des lions! Des lance-flammes!

  8. This is one for BiG and TMB.

    I used to love winding up my Austrian builder. One day I was peering at a bag of plaster.

    “Is there such a thing as male and female spachtel ?”
    Long silence. “No, I don’t think so.”
    “Why is it called Spachtel Innen ?”

    It took him hours to get the pun

  9. The Meissen Bison

    To be clear, nouns are gender neutral in the sense that they do not for the most part have a sexual identity. This guff simply attempts to blur the useful distinction between gender and sex.

  10. Word endings seems to be the main driver of gender (at least in French). Any other reason why “la Gare” is ‘female? “La pelle” (shovel), famously feminine.

  11. Bloke in North Dorset


    Word ending are a good guide in German as well eg “e” endings are feminine and “chen” endings are neuter and the neuter ending trumps feminine.

    This means that its Das Mädchen (girl) but Der Junge (boy) is an exception. One thing I do like about German is that all nouns are capitalised (OK 99.999% for the pendants) and the verb is always in the 2nd slot, which is great for sentence analysis.

  12. “so if you want to talk about a teacher but not use the male (Lehrer) or female (Lehrerin), you can write: Lehrer*in.”

    But then you *ARE* using the female Lehrerin.

    These idiots should campaign to just drop all gender mutations entirely.

  13. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)

    Otto, possibly because, like most of the population, your builder isn’t following the stars colon-gazing discourse.

    The argument in Germany is that the generic masculine, particularly with job names, allegedly hides women, or results in an assumption of male sex. Because if you use the feminine you know the subject is female, but if you use the masculine you aren’t conveying whether the subject is female or male.

    See how the argument defeats itself?

  14. Bloke in North Korea (Germany province)


    No, now it’s “Lehrende”, lit “those that teach.

    We’ve already coined “Bundeskanzlernde” (those that destroy German small business and society with endless ineffective lockdowns), along with the jovial alternatives of BundeskanzlerInnende, Bundeskanzler*nde, etc.

  15. So all the serious issues in the male/female arena are taken care of is anybody’s got time for this shit.

  16. The Meissen Bison


    The “-chen” and “-lein” suffixes are diminutive forms and words with either of these as your Sternchen example above illustrates are neuter. So we have Das Sternchen from Der Stern.

    Das Mädchen is derived from Die Magd (pl. Mägde) which is now more an archaic or poetic usage.

    Since we’re talking about heavenly bodies, how to explain that ‘moon’ and ‘star’ are masculine in German and yet feminine in French while ‘sun’ is feminine German and masculine in French?

  17. In how many languages is “table” masculine, feminine, neuter? Is it feminine in all the Romance languages?

  18. @ BiND “As someone trying to get to grips with German grammar shit like this is the last thing I need.”

    Good thing you don’t have to, given that your average German sees people who use this kind of stuff as complete and utter pillocks. 😉

  19. TMB

    Interestingly in my copy of the Niebelungenlied they mention Maid a lot.
    BiND we see it in those last vestiges of Saxon in our language eg Maid/Maiden.

    Of course in north Germanic mythology, the sun and moon are sister and brother respectively.

  20. @dearime,

    I understood ‘mesa’ to be of different genders in Italian and Spanish, and therefore they weren’t stackable, at least not without allegations of ‘you rapist’ from one side and ‘you lucky bastard’ on the other.

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