Friday, April 17, 2009

Gendered language: How do you describe a key?

Spaniards and Germans can see the same things, wear the same cloths, eat the same foods and use the same machines. But deep down, they are having very different feelings about the world about them.

Difficult to believe? Consider this example:

When asked to describe a "key" — a word that is masculine in German and feminine in Spanish — German speakers were more likely to use words such as "hard," "heavy," "jagged," "metal," "serrated" and "useful." Spanish speakers were more likely to say "golden," "intricate," "little," "lovely," "shiny" and "tiny."

Read this NPR story on this fascinating phenomenon.


  1. Amit said...

    Every now and then I have similar conversation with my European friends, and I am always awed with the way they think about inanimate objects around us. For starters, Mathematica (a computer software) has a gender in French. What is interesting is that when French people write English they sometime (by mistake) attach gender to Mathematica. Doh!