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March 12, 2016

Masculine and Feminine Energy: Translation Services that Understand Gendering in Different Languages

by brenton

Different languages have different rules.  Whereas in English, non-living things are referred to as “it,” in languages such as French, they are referred to as “he” or “she” (“il” and “elle”).  To someone who speaks English, it sounds odd to refer to a book as “he” but in French, this is de rigueur.  A book is masculine but a television is feminine.  A nail is masculine but a person’s skin is feminine.

Masculine vs. Feminine

In the course of providing translation services, one might start to question the sense behind these genders.  What makes a book masculine and a television feminine?  Are they trying to say that men read more books while women watch more television?  Obviously, that sounds ridiculous because you can’t make generalizations like that.

Eventually, you come to realize that you have to take on a completely different way of thinking about gender to truly understand a language in which everything is gendered.  In languages like French, things are gendered not because they are really masculine or feminine in their traits.  Still, there is a certain energy about things with a masculine gender and a different energy about things with a feminine gender.

Yin vs. Yang

If you think back to the yin-yang symbol, then perhaps this idea starts to make sense.  The Chinese believe that there is a feminine energy, yin, and a masculine energy, yang, in the universe.  Everyone and everything has a combination of these two energies.  At times, women might turn out to have more masculine energy while men might turn out to have more feminine energy.  So masculine and feminine are just traits or qualities as opposed to separate genders or sexes.

Similarly, in French, one can imagine that it’s the things with a greater degree of feminine energy that have a feminine gender and vice versa.  Of course, it might be difficult to tell, from the surface, what this energy consists of and what qualities those things possess.  But if you keep an open mind about what gender really is and don’t see “masculine” and “feminine” as opposing traits, then it might become easier to accept a universe in which everything is gendered.

Contact us for translation services  which attempt to understand the beliefs underlying languages.

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