Chinese Turnips04 Mar 2004
A while ago I mentioned Mark Twain's famous comment that "in German, a young lady has no sex, while a turnip has". (Linguistically speaking, of course. I have no idea what turnips do under cover of darkness.) Today at messy-78's Chinese Word of the Day, I learned that with Chinese pronouns, noone has sex. Not turnips, not young girls, noone. Steve says that this is hard for English speakers to parse, since they calling my sister 'he" makes us pause, just the same as calling the girl "it" in German still makes me pause. I would guess that German speakers would have an easier time with Chinese than English speakers, for whom (linguistic) sex is confined to people and ships.