When gender sometimes matters in grammar (and why grammar examples are fun). This is the funniest grammar story since the panda in the bar.
Last year, arriving late to a departmental Christmas party, I was immediately greeted by a waifish 10-year-old with pale skin, delicate features, neatly braided long brown hair, and a stuffed clown fish.The girl solemnly informed me that her stuffed animal was dying of diphtheria. “Oh no!” I cried in mock horror. “Is your fish contagious?” Perhaps fearing I would launch into a speech about how young ladies should be careful around contagious fish, a fellow graduate student quickly interjected, He’s sure the fish isn’t contagious. I asked him that same question.” And that is how I learned that the strange girl with the delicate features and the long braid was in fact a boy. How deftly pronominal information is delivered, and gleaned, by fluent speakers! How different the entire situation would have been were I a speaker of Hawaiian or Persian, where gender isn’t marked at all!
Jessica Love, I ♥ Pronouns
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