Friday, July 13, 2012

the least sexist countries have gendered languages

The title of Gendered Grammar Linked to Global Sexism is misleading; the short article is worth reading because it notes that the link is weak and many exceptions exist:
...languages with no gender at all — where even "he" and "she" are represented by the same word — are associated with the most gender inequality,

...genderless languages didn't fare as well as natural gender languages such as English...

There is not a one-to-one correlation between language and equality. Iran, for example, is a predominately Persian-speaking country, and Persian is a genderless language.

...the results don't indicate that language differences necessarily cause the inequality.
I googled for a simpler test of the relationship between gendered language and sexism.

Here are the top 20 least sexist countries in the world
20. Canada 19. United States 18. Latvia 17. Netherlands 16. Sri Lanka 15. United Kingdom 14. Belgium 13. Germany 12. South Africa 11. Spain 10. Switzerland 9. Philippines 8. Lesotho 7. Denmark 6. Ireland 5. New Zealand 4. Sweden 3. Finland 2. Norway 1. Iceland
And here's a partial list of genderless languages:
Estonian, Finnish, Hungarian, Persian, Basque, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malay, Quechuan, Tagalog, Dravidian languages, Turkish
Only the Finns make both lists. They're great, but the evidence suggests it's not because of their genderless language.

So if I re-embrace the generic "he", you know why.

PS. The Tagalog peoples are a third of the Philippines, so you could argue that language is a factor there, but they're still outnumbered by people speaking gendered languages.