LINGUIST List 2.332

Wednesday, 3 July 1991

Qs: Gender-Based Language, Weather Verbs

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  1. Jan Olsen, Weather-verbs
  2. , Gender-Based Language?

Message 1: Weather-verbs

Date: Mon, 1 Jul 91 12:06:20 +0200
From: Jan Olsen <olsen%unipas.fmi.uni-passau.deRICEVM1.RICE.EDU>
Subject: Weather-verbs
In colloquial German, (1) alternates with (2):
(1) es regnet schon wieder
 it rains already again
(2) das regnet schon wieder!
 this rains already again
(1) is the neutral way of talking about the weather; the subject _es_ is
the standard German expletive pronoun that also shows up in constructions
such as _es gibt Probleme_ (it gives problems; there are problems) or
_es wird getanzt_ (it is danced, one dances).
In (2), _es_ is replaced by the demonstrative pronoun _das_. (2) expresses
strong negative feelings about the weather (and those living in Central
Europe will know why I encountered lots of tokens of (2) in the last two
months) and cannot be used as a neutral statement. The construction is
restricted to atmospheric predicates. It may also express surprise:
(3) das regnet ja nicht mehr!
 this rains particle no longer
 (yesterday's standard utterance)
Are there comparable alternations in other languages?
Gisbert Fanselow (
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Message 2: Gender-Based Language?

Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1991 12:49:38 +0800
From: <>
Subject: Gender-Based Language?
I've just been reading Deborah Tannen's popularization _You just
don't understand_, and I found myself both enjoying it for what
it was, and being repelled by it too. I'm bothered by the idea
that we can deal with different verbal interactions on the basis
of sex. Yes, I think men and women do talk differently; but is this
difference best dealt with in terms of sexual difference, or simply
in terms of differing registers? After all, some men use "feminine"
interaction styles, and some women use "masculine." So what do we
gain by talking of sexual differences?
I realize as I'm writing this that part of my problem here may be
ideological--i.e. I'm scared of women losing what they've gained
in the current emphasis on sexual differences--and not linguistic.
But I'd be interested in people think of this question.
By the way, please post your replies to the list: my account is
probably going to become defunct shortly.
Mary-Lynn Cosgrave
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