Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Britannia is a girl and so are her boats

A Maritime Museum in Scotland has announced that it has begun referring to boats as 'it'.  While the Museum Director says this had begun earlier, it was announced after continued vandalism of signs - where 'she' has been scratched out of information signs.  This is where everyone got involved.  It is part of the current social frenzy over free expression.

The article in the 
Independent.co.uk demonstrated this with a nonsense sounding quote by the side against the change:

"Political correctness is getting out of hand, the few are trying to bully the majority," said Harry Silvers. "There is room in this world for everyone."

Not all cultures view boats the way the British do. It turns out that in Russia, boats have the opposite gender. The world authority on boats is a British firm - Lloyd's List. The weekly shipping publication which has been in print for more than 250 years,  abandoned centuries of seafaring tradition by calling all vessels "it" starting in 2002. It did it to bring the paper into line with most other reputable international business titles.  

We have a simple black/white decision in English.  The week.com tells me that if we were in Luganda, "there are ten genders: people, long objects, animals, miscellaneous objects, large objects and liquids, small objects, languages, pejoratives, infinitives, and mass nouns. But in Chinese, Finnish, and quite a lot of other languages, there are no genders at all."  It explains this in much more detail for those of you who love grammar.  

This same article says this:  The problem is that the Old English word for "ship" (they spelled it scip) was neuter. The Old English word for "boat" (bat) was masculine. So was the word for "whale" (hwæl). And they didn't have a word for "car" (since people a thousand years ago didn't have cars). The use of the feminine pronoun in those instances isn't a holdover at all! It comes from more recent attitudes towards the things referred to.  

Little did we know that this week's angry mob would include the Admiral Lord West.

Switching topics.  We have continuing news each week on Grimsby coyotes: yesterday two people were bitten by coyotes walking along the street in town.  Coyotes live on the escarpment and above the escarpment - and anyone who has a house backing on to the escarpment hears them howling at night. These biting coyotes are living in the South Service Road and Maple Street area. They started chasing people on the town streets a few weeks ago, so the newspaper reports and warnings have been constant.  People have been pretty surprised - we're supposed to be the dominant species in town.  They don't realize that coyotes have no such rules. 

Here's my boat of the day:

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