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What I Love About English

Admittedly, English is a language rife with problems, but it has distinct advantages. The typewriting/computing era has got to love a language with no accents on any letters, meaning keyboards are free to have more commonly-used symbols.

But one element we take for granted is the absence of gendered nouns. How irritating is it that in many languages, words like tree and pen and milk have genders? Does this make sense to anyone? Paper is masculine and streets are feminine; of course, how could I not have known!? It’s probably easy enough if you’re used to it; just one more thing to memorize (as if it was included in things we need to know anyway, like definition and spelling). If I go to France and say “le piscine”, which is the wrong gender for “pool”, is that a big deal?

Maybe English speakers can get away with ignorance on this one, but we’d certainly be mocked if it was done en masse. East Asians have been mocked for their muddling the letters L and R, which are not 2 distinct sounds in some East Asian languages. As I write this, I’m believing more strongly that we English speakers get some flak for our misuse of other languages.

What’s interesting, too, is that some languages have genders that vary by the speaker, rather than the subject. Portuguese and Japanese both do, at least.

Anyway, I wonder if people who speak non-English languages have an easy time remembering the genders of nouns. All I can say is, I’m glad we don’t have to.

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