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In Canadian French there's an easy remedy if you can't recall what the gender of a noun is: just insert some profanity.

Québécois vulgarity tends to be inserted between the article and the verb, in a sort of semi-adjective form. So if you forgot if le porte or la porte was correct, you'd say l'ostie de porte which translates roughly to "the goddamn door" but lets you collapse le or la into l' and avoid the error altogether.




Oh, but that's the funny thing. I don't struggle with the article. I use le/la or un/une etc correctly. It just seems I do it without ever thinking what it means.

So I'd map "la table" to "το τραπέζι" and "un oiseau" το "ένα πουλί" and never notice that the gender has changed from one language to the other.

Unless I think about it.

And the same with pronouns also.


My takeaway from your post is probably completely surprising to some, but:

A trapezium is a table? (Checks etymonline) And apparently indeed, trapezium comes from a Greek word that means "little table" from "trapeza" meaning table. The things you learn.

(For those who can't read Greek, the Greek writing in YeGoblynQueenne's post are "to trapezi" and "ena pouli". I can read Greek since my mother studied Christian theology and had the alphabet in prominent display to help her learn it, but I can't understand a word of it.)


Hah. Yes, it's the same word. Or same word-root anyway. Interestingly, a "table" as in a matrix, is called a "pinakas" (πίνακας). Which translates as "board" to English (as in whiteboard, cheeseboard etc).

Have you ever visited Greece? It would be a strange experience, being able to read all the signs but not knowing what they mean. I know because I was in Bulgaria for a conference this summer and I could read everything... but understand not a word :)

That's because it's all in a Cyrillic alphabet which is very similar to the Greek alphabet (it's partly derived from it). Come to think of it, so is the Latin alphabet, but I'm used to seeing Latin signs everywhere, including in Greece.


As a native english speaker who also speaks some french and spanish, I had the opposite experience:

I had trouble deciphering the alphabet at speed, but once I had I could often understand the word based on it's similarity to spanish (e.g. Σάββατο / Sábado) or english (έξοδος / exit).


> I can read Greek since my mother studied Christian theology

I can read (a reasonable amount of) Greek after studying a lot of physics/math :D. But I only understand the words that trickled into the other languages I speak or can recognize a root for.


Yes, that's another interesting experience- how other people pronounce Greek letters and words that they've learned from science textbooks. Sometimes I forget myself and say something in a Greek way and people just stare at me :)

E.g. I was working on a paper with my thesis advisor and I used the plural of "lemma", "lemmata" (λήμμα, λήμματα). It's actually in the English dictionary, but he advised me to say "lemmas" instead because people reading the paper may not be native English speakers and it would just make the text harder to read. I always want to sneak in fancy words in my papers, but it's a bit tricky to do it right..


And a trapezoid is called that because it is like a table, with a flat part on top.


Yes, native speakers don’t thinks about grammatical gender of words, it’s just coming up naturally. The worrying trend however, is the politicization of language, based on a Saphir-Whorf-like hypothesis (and I would say on Newspeak as well) which lead to the horror that is called écriture inclusive. The Académie condamned this new orthography but it’s still wildly in use in administrative documents.


"Condemned". The distinction between condemn and damn seems to go back to Latin, if not further.

I'm not sure it should matter what one particular authority decides, in terms of language use. People, including people writing administrative documents should be free to write in the manner that feels most comfortable to them. If this creates a political problem, the political solution is the ballot box and altering the education or hiring policies.

Customary criticism is fine, but it makes no sense to say "you shouldn't say foo because some organisation that shouldn't have authority says you shouldn't say foo"; instead, you should have some direct reason why foo is problematic.

Your criticism shouldn't be circular either, for instance "you shouldn't use 'singular they' because 'they' is plural" is completely, aside from being historically wrong, ineffective as criticism, since it is merely because of the incorrect description of the word as "plural" by some authority that you believe it to be plural, whereas most people use it regularly to refer to a non-specific person.


>People, including people writing administrative documents should be free to write in the manner that feels most comfortable to them

They should also write in a way that conveyed information effectively. The so-called inclusive writing is extremely disruptive to the flow of reading and makes job offers, administrative documents and so on a pain to navigate (all for the sake of political positions very few people actually hold), defeating the point of language. I'm sure fellow French speakers will know what I'm talking about.




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