So, Slovene has no concept of the English "they" as a gender-neutral pronoun, when referring to a person one must use "he" or "she" and because of grammatical agreement, the rest of the sentence must adapt to the chosen pronoun.
This makes me wonder: How do non-binary people handle this situation? What conventions have developed in the non-binary community for talking about such people?
I note that, in English, singular "they" is generally not used when talking about a specific person of known gender, unless that person is non-binary or ortherwise identifies with they/them pronouns. ... Shakespeare <snip>
Glad to know it was readable. :D
It was quite challenging as Slovene has no way to specifically say "feminine" and "masculine" without resorting to borrowing words that sounds very foreign to a native speaker of Slovene.
E.g. even with declensions, you'd get "ženske in moške sklanjatve" - corresponding in meaning to "feminine and masculine declensions
", but in literal translation, you'd "female and male declensions".
Well, most movies make it easier by showing the character on screen (so it can be seen if they are male or female) and the use of the masculine form for both sexes in universally used (also in legal documents that require absolute clarity).
I do remember the movie "Aga" was a slightly special case, a character was not on screen until the very last few minutes, but was constantly talked about.
The person making the subtitles had to watch the whole thing before they could determine the person in question was female and then use feminine forms. XD
You'd only get both the feminine and masculine forms in short pieces.
A TV announcer will say: "Drage gledalke in gledalci" (Slovene for "female and male viewers") if they want to be inclusive, but "gledalci" (the masculine form) will be used otherwise.
Not the best example as "gledalke" sounds a bit strange and is rarely used in Slovene, but it conveys the point and I can avoid the special letters with it too. :)
Of course, there is one possible situation that can arise. What if the gender of a specific character is intentionally hidden, and revealing it would be a major spoiler?
(One example of this sort of thing is the NES game Metroid: At the end of the game, if you beat the game fast enough, it is revealed that Samus Aran is a woman) <snip>
*sighs* Manual quoting again. I'll figure this out sometime after I'm done with school.
Hm, maybe I can have headings to avoid using extra spaces. Quote 1:
- "This makes me wonder: How do non-binary people handle this situation? What conventions have developed in the non-binary community for talking about such people?"
I take it you mean in Slovene?
I've never encountered something like that, but one of my professors said he has come across "bili_e", which is good, but also a bit problematic as the immediate implication is the third person plural.
In English this would correspond to "(they) were" - due to the number and person being conveyed by the ending, you don't need to specify the "person" information like you do in English - however each ending corresponds to a grammatical gender: "bili" is grammatically the masculine 3rd person plural, or to if you mean a group of both sexes as the masculine is used for such cases because it is grammatically dominant; and "bile" to the 3rd person feminine gender.
If you had sentences like:
- "Teja so bili na zabavi." - "Teja were at the party."
The sentence is practically ungrammatical, unless you'd used it with the archaic meaning of using the plural to show great respect to someone.
It hasn't been in use for several generations, but in the past, it would be used to refer to grandparents, even if you were referring to just one grandparent the structure would correspond to "Oni so šli." - "They went.", but that's only found in very old books nowadays.
- "Peter bi rad(a) bil(a) kmet(ica)." - "Peter would like to be a (female) farmer."
Since Peter is a male name, the structure must correspond to the masculine grammatical gender so "rad" and "bil", if you used the feminine forms "rada" and "bila" the sentence would automatically be ungrammatical.
And if you had "kemtica" (the feminine form of "farmer") instead of "kmet" (the masculine form of "farmer"), even if the masculine forms are used to implication is that he would like to become a farmer and female, which sounds strange and honestly funny to a Slovene native speaker at first glance - it might work if you had someone undergoing a sex-change operation in the near future and you'd really need to stretch the context for that option, but otherwise the sentence is again ungrammatical.
P.S. To be clear, the extensive commentary here is mine, not my professor's. On names in Slovene and English:
Oh, "Teja" in the first example is a female name in Slovene, I couldn't think of any neutral ones, sorry.
I'm not sure if that's even possible. Even if you had a name that can be used for males and females in English, like "Alex" or "Sam", you'd still have a male or female used if you used their Slovene counterparts.
"Alex" would become "Aleks" a male name and "Sam" would turn into "Samo" again a male name.
If you had "Alex" as a female character in a book you'd probably get a footnote explaining that's it's short for "Alexandra" and therefore female.
Interestingly, some names are perceived differently in English and Slovene.
E.g. "Sasha" seems to be used for males more than females in English, while in Slovene you'd have "Saša
" to refer to a female (and keep the name in its original form) and you'd have to adapt it into "Sašo
" to refer to a male - note the different endings for each option. Quote 2:
- "I note that, in English, singular "they" is generally not used when talking about a specific person of known gender, unless that person is non-binary or otherwise identifies with they/them pronouns."
I'm aware of that, I meant that "they" can be gender-neutral if either the person's gender is unknown or if the speaker doesn't want to specify it. In English this is possible, but not in Slovene. Quote 3:
- "Of course, there is one possible situation that can arise. What if the gender of a specific character is intentionally hidden, and revealing it would be a major spoiler?"
That wasn't the case in "Aga", but in general, that's how Slovene would have to handle it due to grammatical agreement, and yes it would produce spoilers.
If it were possible, you could just go with how other characters would perceive the one that wasn't revealed yet.
If other character thought of the hidden one as a "he", the structure would go with that and once the character was revealed to be a "she", you'd probably get a moment of "Wait, he's a she
?!" (or vice versa, if the character was thought of as a "she" at first and was actually a "he").
If that's not possible you might see "he" like in the example you gave, but I'd be strange to see it used for a specific person and have it correspond to the wrong sex in Slovene.
I guess Slovene isn't grammatically friendly when a person's gender does not match their sex or if they're non-binary. :(
Originally meant as part of the replay to "dtgreene", but I guess the whole thing was too big for a single post. "Ti" vs. "vi" in Slovene - like "you" vs. "thou" in English:
Oh, since you mentioned Shakespeare, there's something I forgot to mention in my original comment.
While now English would refer to anyone in the second person as "you" regardless or formality, Slovene has two forms in use: "ti" for informal contexts and "vi" if it's a formal situation and especially if you want to refer to someone respectfully.
For example if I would address a person clearly quite a bit older than me, I'd go with "vi" (presupposing I don't know them well enough to be on the informal level of "ti" with them) or if I were to refer to a professor as a sign of respect and formality (unless if I were specifically told to go with "ti", but it'd feel very strange).
A teacher would normally refer to students with "ti", but some (very few in my experience) may go for "vi", but it feels strange to be called like that if you're a lot younger than the speaker and in a socially submissive role.
"Vi" would be used by both parties in a formal setting and as a sign of respect. E.g. two business partners addressing each other.
"Ti" is usually used among peers or friends, but usually not if one speaker is above the other socially (boss - employee), unless the speaker in the socially submissive role has special permission to refer to the other person with "ti".
Clumsily put, but I hope the point is clear.
Obviously, the rest of the structure would need to grammatically agree with the speaker's choice.
- "Maja, lahko govorim s tabo?" - "Maja, may I speak with you?"
"Maja" is a Slovene female name like the English "May".
Let's say you're addressing a friend and you'll use a structure corresponding to "ti" because there's no need to be formal.
- "Gospa Novak, lahko govorim z vami?" - "Ms. Novak, may I speak with you?"
Maybe a boss - employee situation and to be even more respectful, you are addressing your female boss by using her last name and also with the structure that corresponds with "vi" due to formality and to be respectful.
You might see a similar difference in English if you take "you" as a less formal address and "thou" as a formal one, but I don't think "thou" would be encountered today outside of Shakespeare's plays. part 1