Tumblr user “Feminist Chewbacca” added a post that accuses the English language of being inherently sexist. It included a range of examples, suggesting that the structure of the words favored the male gender. But a self-proclaimed linguist decided to join the conversation, giving clear examples as to why the original poster was definitively off base.
Feminist Chewbacca used a somewhat militant tone in her post right from the beginning, reblogging a post she discovered on Visual Poetry, according to Bored Panda. The post opened by saying, “Men fabricated the idea that they are the default sex to compensate for their biological inferiority and general superfluousness.”
“This is not just the ‘natural order’ this is the language of a patriarchal culture.”
There was also included an image of words broken down in such a way as to support the argument.
The self-proclaimed linguist, posting as “mitosisisyourtosis,” decided to chime in, saying, “Omg no, you are wrong on so many levels and as a linguist this makes me ache something terrible.”
“In my linguistics class in undergrad, we actually made fun of people who think like you along these lines and for good reason, because you are wholly ignorant and are choosing to spin narratives about things and field which you know completely nothing about yet pretend you do.”
The linguist proceeded to discuss the origins of every word in the image, providing support for the idea that “patriarchal language” was not involved in their creation or evolution.
In regards to the claim that “she” reflected “a patriarchal culture,” Mitosisisyourtosis wrote: “This word evolved naturally from Old English from seo/heo which were just words to refer to feminine-female people evolving from Proto-Germanic words meaning ‘that/there’. He as a word evolved from the same ideas but Proto-Germanic words meaning ‘this/here’.”
The response continues, “Your idea of ‘patriarchal language’ further falls apart when you compare this part of English to other Germanic languages, of which English is related, the words in German for he and she are ‘er’ and ‘sie’, completely unrelated. So it is by clear happenstance, not some patriarchal conspiracy that the words ‘he’ and ‘she’ in English have similar form.”
Mitosisisyourtosis’ response is quite lengthy, and addresses each of the words in the original image, though it cannot be confirmed that they have the linguist chops that they claim.