1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    A Genderless Society, New Language Needed?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Killer300, Mar 14, 2012.

    Okay, if one were to have an entire society that is genderless, does the writer need to perhaps invent new words to describe it? After all, so much of, at least the English, language has many words that require gender to well... work.

    I ask this because I may write a story soon that involves a society which doesn't have gender. It may have but because of biologic circumstances, not gender. Or at least, not in the sense of having a social role, as each of the sexes can do any role with equal effectiveness pretty much, including ones which is not physically possible for humans, assuming I even end up with that.

    So, would I have to invent completely new words for this society, or can I just use normal, "he," and,"she," by just basing it on things like their names? Would the latter ring out as false? Is all of this pointless to ask as judging a concept, and I should just get down to writing it to see what works?
     
  2. Afion
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    Afion Senior Member

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    You could go either way. You could have gender neuteral terms like 'xe', or you could have people choosing their gender and maybe having some kind of ceremony where they decide which gender they want. :)
     
  3. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Well, it would depend. If they had never had genders or had long ago lost it, they might not think in the terms of gender. I think he/she would, unless recently went genderless, or as the previous poster said, they choose genders or something along those lines where it is specifically recognized even if it's not biological, would raise an eyebrow at the very least and become counter productive to the point. Though, you could always just got the Spanish way of things in which the you default to masculine use of the words (or rebel and do female.)
     
  4. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Hmm, last part is interesting.

    But I bring this up because making a language, or even making new words, is a... possibly headache inducing process judging by how complex it can be.

    On the other hand however, this society doesn't have enough differences biologically to have genders. Anyone can give birth, nurse a baby, or any other task related to childcare. Additionally, there aren't physical differences that come from having different sexes. So, this society wouldn't have genders because the difference wouldn't exist.
     
  5. Tashanel
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    Tashanel Member

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    I say go for new language that which simple than using gender (First maybe you are feel awkward, but it will simply you between your genderless to genderless and genderless to gender)

    I would share this. Maybe inspiring you to invent language.
    Here, in my language (Indonesian) we are no need determine word by gender. Here some point:

    - The only word that gender was Man and Woman.
    - But, he/she expressed by only one word. We don't need to call them in feminine or masculine. The reason is, when pointing someone he/she it's clearly can see with naked eye is she woman or man.
    - When pointing he/she but the object wasn't there, we still using one same word. (for this example i'm using "dia" for "he/she" ex: "Where's Nany?" "Dia out of town")
    - It allow to family member too. We don't use gender to determine. (especially down from father-mother; brother-sister, niece-nephew. Just to make it simple, use family status that same degree. And also up from grandfather and grandmother; great-grandfather/mother, great-great-grandfather/mother Ex: Brother-sister become Kaka. If it conversation to the gender one, add Man kaka or Women kaka)
    - Every verb, adverb, adjective just using one word. If it conversation to the gender one, added two gender before the word. Like above :)

    It is simply way to make a genderless language. Points what i wrote, that i can recall now :)
     
  6. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Hey, thanks Tashanel, didn't know there were real world examples. Thank you!:)
     
  7. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    Honestly, for my self as I would never make up a language, I hate attempting to make names, I would just go with avoiding any gender specific words because it sounds as if they have no clue and never did that there is a difference and it's hard because that has always been a part of every society we have ever had. But Tashanel makes good points, that you are only replacing a handful of words that we relate to gender.

    On the other hand, I can make it more difficult to decide. In a conversation, omit the pronoun. Just say "Out of town" or "They went out of town." And use gender neutral terms, parent, spouse, grand parent, sibling, cousin etc.

    It's hard to decide because I think both ways will be a headache and have me banging my head against walls, but either way it will be a very interesting outcome.
     
  8. Tashanel
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    Tashanel Member

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    yeah. I'm too pissed off with google translate because that. When I want to translate my language into english, only "his" show up for he/she! and other gender words. Sigh!

    google translate is not for indonesian, at least not for me!
     
  9. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    For the story that I'm currenty planning, I thought a similar thing; a character in my story will be of both genders - a hermaphrodite. I thought about giving a new word for them, but the fact that hermaphrodites walk among people won't be common knowledge and because of that, I decided that hermaphrodite characters will be referred to as the gender they outwardly appear, but that's also because I'm thinking about keeping it a secret from readers till the other characters find out about the herm. characters... Though knowing me, I'll probaby change my mind and start to wonder again to what I should do on that!

    Anyways, for your genderless society, I think that you'd be better of creating words to replace the gender assosiated ones. If there are no physicall differences then how are they meant to refer to one as a man or woman? So coming up with words to replace he/she, him/her ect would be better for your story I think. Or as Kaymindless said, you could just remove those kinds of words from their langauge, though I'm think that maybe hard to do all the time.
     
  10. RW James
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    RW James New Member

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    When I was in school, we were taught that this was also true in English. That is, the pronoun "he" or the noun "Man" (note: capitalized) could refer to both or either sex. But this was before the rise of political correctness and the feminist movement, and everyone became offended easily.
    The problem is, if you use the word "he" the reader will assume masculinity and visualize that. You could use "it" but that is really somewhat demeaning, isn't it? Perhaps a made up word would be the best way to go.
     
  11. Kaymindless
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    Kaymindless Contributing Member

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    I think I was probably in school when they actually started changing everything up on us, or at least when it reached down here.

    My only concern with a made up word/s is that it is great for dialogue... for narrative, it's going to be tough to sell a word and get a reader to accept it as a replacement. Unless the plot will be a gendered race meeting up with a genderless race, then there should really be not mention of gender (past the obvious point in the story.) I'm not sure if I'm explaining myself correctly here.

    You are right though, using he will automatically make the reader assume masculinity and she would the exact same. It would be... horrible.

    Honestly, I think it'll be an interesting, hard, writing but interesting none the less. The only time I've seen genderless societies discussed is from the view point of a human, and the two examples I can think of off the top of my head deal with them evolving to that state, not just always being that way.
     
  12. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Something else that prevents me from using he or she is that traits considered, "masculine," or, "feminine," are both present in every individual. If you looked at a member of the species... well, it would appear to be both sexes.
     
  13. lorilee
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    lorilee Member

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    I'm thinking of the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Outcast", where they run into a genderless society. Can't think of the pronouns or terminology used, though
     
  14. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, I've never found it a problem writing in a gender neutral way, either for creative or academic writing. No need for a new language. Just structure your sentences to say e.g: 'Many people think blah blah blah, but they may find blah blah blah' or whatever. Never use the word 'he' to make generalisations. I was young in the blessed 70s and I'm still a feminist. Yes, 'he', 'man', etc is both annoying and unnecessary in writing from a general perspective. It looks very old-fashioned, too.

    For creative writing, I'd say, use whichever pronoun, he/she, is suitable for the appearance of the character, but use 'it' if the gender is ambiguous.
     
  15. Asaph Judea Wagner
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    Asaph Judea Wagner Member

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    There are sea slugs, that literally have no gender differences. They fence with their members who get to keep it when they're in mating season. It would be extrodinarly screwed up when you think about it this way.

    To word inventing, you can use words in Englsh to create new Phrases to describe anything. Gorund Zero or the Great Wall of China for instance.
     
  16. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You think English requires genders to work? Wow you should look into, well, almost any other European language! In Czech, you even refer to a book as "she" - you don't "pick it up", you "pick her up" :p

    Having said this, within the Czech language, you can skip the pronounces all together. So instead of "he has" - you just go straight for "has", because the infinitive of "to have" has various endings depending on which pronoun preceded it, making it obvious enough not to require a pronoun to be verbally spoken except for emphasise.

    Maybe look at other languages and just pick some random word that would fit as a gender-neutral pronoun?

    In the example of "He has" in Czech, it would've been "On má" - so you could take "má", or something on those lines :)

    But my advice would be to create your own word that is gender-neutral. If you use "he" or "she", people are inevitably gonna start thinking of men and women.
     

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