Explicitly stating gender (using "male", "female")

Discussion in 'עברית (Hebrew)' started by trigel, Dec 28, 2012.

  1. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    How often do you use the qualifiers "male" or "female" for people/animals in Hebrew, if Hebrew often marks gender on nouns? Do you use them only when you can't mark the gender on the noun?

    I don't know whether you, for example, would say word-for-word "female students", because סטודנטיות is already 'female students'. But the problem for me is that סטודנטים could mean 'students, male or female' or 'male students'.

    In sentences like
    אחיו הם סטודנטים באוניברסיטת הארוורד
    אחיותיו הן סטודנטיות באוניברסיטת הארוורד
    you wouldn't state gender in the English equivalents and I would perceive the students as "just happening to be all males or all females."

    In contrast to that, when you have some reason to state gender expressly as in
    "Male students are more likely to study business and engineering"/"Female students are less likely to study business and engineering"
    or when explicitly making a comparison between the sexes
    "Male college students are more likely to drink than female students"/"Female students are less likely to drink than male students"

    When do you just say "סטודנטים" for the male students and when do you say "male students" or something? Would you ever say "female"?

    EDIT: So the default student IS male in Hebrew, he isn't a gender-neutral person who has to be grammatically masculine...
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  2. ashmash Member

    Even in a comparison between male and female students I would probably not use the words males and females (זכרים ונקבות) as it sounds a bit rude (you would see it in official documents and surveys though). סטודנטים and סטודטיות should do the trick and perhaps, if one really wants to emphasise the contrast between the two sexes one could use boys and girls (בנים and בנות). So for instance:
    בהשוואה שנערכה, נמצא שסטודנטים בנים מעדיפים ללמוד בהארוורד בעוד בנות מעדיפות את ייל. הסטודנטים בחרו בהארווד מסיבה זו והסטודנטיות בחרו בייל מסיבה אחרת. עוד נמצא שהסטודנטים מרוצים מהמרצות בעוד הסטודנטיות מרוצות מהמרצים.
    And so on and so forth, the words mark the gender by themselves without any need to for additional words.

    Hope it helped.
  3. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    And what if you're only talking about the males without comparison to females?
    "All of the male students left." as opposed to "All of the students left."
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  4. ashmash Member

    If it was a scenario of talking about male students only and the sex is significant (rather than accidental) I would clarify I refer only to men. For example: נבדקו רק סטודנטים זכרים. In this context, however, I would probably clarify why only male students were selected. I still maintain that this form is an exceptional and unnatural way of expression, reserved to situations where the sex is significant and the speaker explicitly wants to clarify this. A rule of thumb is don't use it, unless it is necessary.

    I can also think of examples where the sex is so clear that I wouldn't bother the indicate the sex explicitly under any circumstance. For example, Bachurei Yeshiva (בחורי ישיבה) are always guys and no one expects to find women in this group. The feminine parallel would be Talmidot Ulpana (תלמידות אולפנה) and, once again, no need to mark the sex for it's clear who are we talking about.
  5. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    Just so you know I'm not talking about those cases like בחורי ישיבה.

    I imagine this indicates how salient gender has to be for speakers of languages with gender.
  6. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    How would you say:
    "She's the fastest female runner in the school"
    "She's the fastest runner in the school"
    "He's the fastest male runner in the school"

    Is the best way:
    היא הכי מהירה מהרצות בבית הספר
    היא הכי מהירה מהרצים בבית הספר
    הוא הכי מהירה מהרצים הבנים בבית הספר?
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
  7. ashmash Member

    In normal speak the gender isn't so important, unless the speaker tries to make a point.

    As for the runner examples, the second sentence feels incorrect as the gender of היא and הרץ... don't agree. I understand what you were trying to do there and believe some people would even say it this way, but it doesn't sound right. A grammatically correct way to say it is: היא הרצה הכי מהירה בבית הספר גם בקרב הבנים (she's the fastest runner in school also among the boys) or היא הרצה הכי מהיר בבית הספר בקרב שני המינים (she's the fastest runner in school for both sexes). This corrects the ambiguity of the first example (is the she the fastest female runner OR the fastest runner full stop. Don't want to enter into a chauvinist/feminist discussion here, but as usually both sexes compete separately I tend to understand it as the former) without "transgendering" the poor runner. :D
  8. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    מה דעתכם על
    היא הכי מהירה [מהרצים/מהרצות] בבית הספר
    הוא הכי מהיר מהרצים הבנים בבית הספר
    אלה יותר טובים?
  9. arielipi Senior Member

    In hebrew gender agrees with nouns and numbers, and thats it; no discussion about that.
  10. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    I'm sorry about that, I was careless. "Student" just happens to mean both "gender-neutral student" and male "student".
  11. C_J Member

    The default Hebrew student is not male, he is the default student. In hebrew that default student will use male conjugations. This can be seen very clearly in cases where the student's gender is not specified: "על הסטודנט להגיש את מטלותיו בזמן". Nonetheless, some people see an ambiguity in any case of a single student, which arises from the need to mark female students exclusively (if you know that a student is in fact female, you cannot use the default single form on her). This is why the default plural is sometimes prefered: "על הסטודנטים להגיש את מטלותיהם בזמן".

    In every similar case, the default plural form refers to "all male", "male and female" and even "all female" (but only if the speaker doesn't know/doesn't intend that it's all female).

    "סטודנטית"/"סטודנטיות" unambiguously refers to "female student" and "female students", the adjective "female" is redundant. If someone wants to refer to "male student/s" specifically, the adjective "male/s" is necessary. EDIT: Also possible with descriptive nouns גברים/נשים בנים/בנות

    There are some weird exceptions however; same-sex institutions (monastery/nunnery), and some professions that are predominantly male or female (אחות - אחיות, גננת - גננות, שרת-שרתים, שוער-שוערים, אינסטלטור-אינסטלטורים או שרברב-שרברבים).
    Obviously, there are male nurses and kindergarten teachers, but the default Hebrew form in these cases is female (not only because of female predominance but also in order to disambiguate גננים=gardeners and אחים=brothers).
    Last edited: Dec 31, 2012
  12. trigel Senior Member

    English - US, Korean
    Are there words other than "banim"/"zexarim" that can be used to emphasize male gender, for cases where "banim" may sound too young and "zexarim" too "biological" for the context? Can "gvarim" for instance be used the same way?
  13. arielipi Senior Member

    No c_j, it is not default student; the default X is always male X. hebrew doesnt have it system.
  14. C_J Member

    That's exactly what I said, in Hebrew the male form is used in all cases except when referring to a female/females explicitly.
    What I said was, that even though default X uses male forms, it doesn't necessarily mean that male form = male gender. Thus, a statement such as "כל סטודנט/כלב חייב לאכול", "כל הסטודנטים/הכלבים חכמים" does not necessarily mean "every male student/dog has to eat" or "all of the male students/dogs are smart; in fact, in most cases such statements are understood as "every female and male student/dog...." and "all female and male dogs".

    @Trigel in a situation where gender cannot be infered from context, "זכר/ים" is usually used formally. When speaking of people (rather than animals), there's a preference toward גברים ונשים and בנים ובנות in a less formal setting (also applied for young adults).
    If you look at this exmple for instance ( http://rsa.gov.il/chadartikshoret/chadashot/Pages/Common.aspx ), you will notice that it doesn't uses "female drivers" or "male drivers", but rather "all drivers" and then specifies for "men" and "women".
    In other cases such as this - http://www.aka.idf.il/rights/asp/info.asp?moduleid=2&catid=22703&docid=22716 you can see that חייל/חיילים refers to all soldiers, except the cases when it says "חייל וחיילת" where it means "male soldier and female soldier".

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