The hidden messages of languages

  • In Dutch, the infinitive of substantive verb is „zijn” (English equivalent „to be”). The possessive pronoun in the male third person is „zijn” (English equivalent „his”). What can be the messages of these identical forms?

language

 

Does it suggest that existance is subject to human possession? Do our males claim a right on any formations on the world? This approach suggests the unquestionable superiority of our species. This attitude justifies all the invasions and abuses committed by humanity throughout history. For this kind of wiring is it so hard to act consciously and to consider the external effects of our deeds?  

It might also mean that the aim of a man’s life is to win, gain or earn as much as possible. Would the poverty-sticken be actually non-existant whose opinions can be neglected? This conception underpins the old-world and prevalent social structures where the mightly have had actual political power.

  • In Dutch, „zij” is the form of female singular third person (English equivalent “she”) and the plural third form (English equivalent „they”). This structure suggests a sort of inherent distance among the speakers (I do, or we do) and the women (they do).

Were women not involved in the structuring of the language?  Did women and men act so separately and differently that no common personal pronouns were needed? Could women speak at all?

Nowadays, we are struggling to observe the rights of all living beings by curbing human greed and agression. We seem to be fighting a combat with our very inner selves reflected by these basic languistic structures.

Can such a war be victorious? Can a soul be peaceful once defeated its own defective nature?    

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19 comments

  1. The problem is that women haven’t been given their due in history. Sure every now and then we hear of larger than life female heros like Rani Laxmibai or Joan of Arc, but as a society, women have always been treated as second class citizens, it has lessened in the modern world, but that truly is the grim reality. In my opinion, this lopsided social construct raises from the fact that household work (which women have primarily done throughout history) has never been treated on par with out of the house businesses. A valiant brave man is considered as a hero by the society while at the same time a valiant woman is called characterless. As such, even in languages, it is primarily assumed that the male is speaking/addressing and women are supposed to be meekly listening. My words may seem harsh, but that’s how it’s been, I didn’t make the social constructs, I’m just voicing my observation.

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  2. I assume that men think of he and his first and women, she and hers. Our early books, the bible and Quran are written by men. Since our English and various European languages are mostly Latin or Greek based, we are stuck in our language disparity. Lao Tsu made a comment to the effect that with knowledge and wisdom, great hypocrisy followed. I don’t know that a solution exists as we use descriptives and possessives in our ordinary speech. Even this response is rife with them.

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  3. This is a fascinating topic and not one that exists solely in foreign languages. For a long time, the neutral gender in English writing was “he”. A decade or so ago, I think, I started to notice the change to she. I don’t recall ever hearing a discussion on what prompted the change.
    Do you have a book that you recommend that explores this topic a little further?

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  4. Interesting insights into Dutch. Language is the result of many things. Some languages have feminine and masculine suffixes. Others don’t. It may have more to do with history (where did that language come from?) e.g. the word for father in many languages is Pa, or Papa, which probably leads us to back to “Appa” or Baba in Indian languages. Which again is one of the first syllables mastered by infants: Pa/ba or ma.
    Now greed and aggression likely come from another source: territoralism. The need for a territory to supply food and ressources. (See the territorial imperative) The thing with greed nowadays is that no-one seems to have enough, it is more and more and more… When a young man is “sold” from one organization to the other for 220 million Euros… where is the sense, limit meaning of that?
    (Case in point soccer player Neymar…)

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