Re: deponency

Date: Mon Jan 20 1997 - 17:17:36 EST

Dear Carl,
                The latest twist--confusing gender with sex--is but another
example of why our profession may be a lost cause. We used to explain to
Greek students that "gender is not sex--sex has to do with people, gender with
grammar". But now the aversion to the word "sex" has led to using the word
"gender" to mean "sex", and our position is hopeless.
        Actually, the problem in this case is deeper; the "genders" should
never have been labeled (incorrectly) as "masculine", "feminine," and
"neither" (by Aristotle?). They are more like area codes, increasing the
number of possibilities, and SHOULD be called "alpha", "beta", and "gamma"

<I think that you are mis-applying the conception of gender here.
<Grammatically it has nothing to do with the sex of the referent of a noun
<except, in some instances, by convention.


<Personally, I wish we could drop the term "deponent" from our grammatical
<vocabulary for reasons I've explained in the post you've cited: it implies
<that we English-speakers are smarter than those Greek-speakers because we
<know what voice a verb really OUGHT to be. I realize, however, that the
<term "deponent" will outlive me by centuries, for the same reason that we
<will continue to use a system of weights and measures based upon
<traditional English standards rather than upon the continental metric
<system--intellectual inertia.

        It will even outlive ME by centuries, alas!


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