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An update on the Ada Initiative

An update on the Ada Initiative

Posted Jan 17, 2012 10:33 UTC (Tue) by dgm (subscriber, #49227)
In reply to: An update on the Ada Initiative by nybble41
Parent article: An update on the Ada Initiative

That's mudding the discussion, which is not about abstract nouns but real people. In this case, gender and sex are synonyms.


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An update on the Ada Initiative

Posted Jan 17, 2012 16:40 UTC (Tue) by nybble41 (subscriber, #55106) [Link]

> In this case, gender and sex are synonyms.

No, they're not. Even when speaking of people, there are feminine males and masculine females--people who are biologically male, but express more than the average/expected degree of feminine gender traits, and visa-versa.

Of course, it's generally not an all-or-nothing proposition, but rather a continuum. Most people display at least some gender traits contrary to their sex, while in a few rare cases sex and gender are completely at odds with each other.

"Male" and "female" are biological traits (though even at this level not all cases are perfectly clear-cut). "Masculine" and "feminine" are derived classifications based on physiological traits, behaviors, psychology, and perhaps other factors. There is a strong correlation, to be sure, but they are far from being synonyms.

An update on the Ada Initiative

Posted Jan 17, 2012 18:45 UTC (Tue) by dgm (subscriber, #49227) [Link]

Absurd. Gender _is_ all or nothing. There's no such gender as "30% masculine". Same for sex, salve _exceptionally_ rare cases.

Masculine and feminine are adjectives, while male and female are usually nouns. And that's all.

An update on the Ada Initiative

Posted Jan 17, 2012 20:00 UTC (Tue) by giraffedata (subscriber, #1954) [Link]

Masculine and feminine are adjectives, while male and female are usually nouns. And that's all.

Male and female are primarily adjectives. I believe it is a recent invention to use them as nouns; we used to say "man" and "woman" where we say "male" and "female" now. I even heard once that calling a man a male is special to American English.

I never heard a distinction between gender and sex before now, but I like it. There are two things to discuss and two words; it makes sense to use one for each. The history and common usage also matter of course; I don't know much about that.

There is a world of difference between masculine and male. I've never heard of a masculine connector or a feminine hamster.


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