Monday, August 20, 2007

He Is A She

No, this isn't a post about gender-bending; rather, I'd like to deal with the case of the switching pronouns, an error I encounter almost every day of my English work.

I've heard variations of this many times: "She's a good cook. His specialty is paella." The mistake is clear: the subject (the good cook) is female and the proper pronouns are she and her. Why the switch to he which is the pronoun for a man? Switching pronouns is clearly a no-no. You do not want people to think you're talking about more than one person. Here's another sample: "My father wants a new cellphone. He wants a model like her wife's, my mother." Did you notice the switch? It should have been "like his wife's."

My explanation for this lies in the Filipino language. If you think about it, Filipino is not a very gender-sensitive language. We don't really make too many gender distinctions. Consider my first example translated into Filipino: "Magaling sya mag-luto. Ang specialty nya ay paella." You see, there is nothing in the Filipino sentences that show gender.

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