Tuesday, April 7, 2009

the gender of our words

According to the Germans this bridge is...
but for the Spanish this same bridge is...

Boroditsky over at NPR, proposes that because the word for "bridge" in German — die brucke — is a feminine noun, and the word for "bridge" in Spanish — el puente — is a masculine noun, native speakers unconsciously give nouns the characteristics of their grammatical gender.

In the broadcast on NPR Broditsky attempts to prove that grammar affects our sensual experience of the world. She conducts an experiment creating a new language, where certain nouns are deemed masculine and others are feminine. As soon as the coding was set in place, the same characteristics re-emerged to describe the objects along gender lines.

It shows quite effectively both the affect of words on experience and how ingrained gendered characteristics tend to be.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. I know that this is a lame comment, but that's all I've got.