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Author Topic: Gender of ships  (Read 1861 times)


  • Guest
Gender of ships
« on: June 13, 2005, 06:22:49 AM »
Tony..I meant to reply to this a few days ago...

You wrote "Oh a question I've always referred to ships and boats as
female gender. My kit is called the king of the Mississippi are river
boats referred to in the male gender."

Now I have the answer on very good authority from another group who
was debating the same question...

Apparently a ship is always referred to in the female gender even if
it has a male name because:

"She always shows her topsides and hides her bottom, and she costs a
fortune in powder and paint before she'll even leave port!!

The French name almost all of their Naval vessels with Male names..and
you'll notice that US aricraft carriers seem to be distinctly
masculine in their naming...however for some strange reason..theyre
still referred to as SHE!!!! (Scary isnt it..and it was long before
the days of political correctness!)



  • Guest
Gender of ships
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2005, 06:23:23 AM »
Ok, sorry to dig up a post from so long ago - I've been reading the
old posts to get up to speed on the group - but I believe I have an
answer to this question. Grammatical gender often has nothing to do
with actual gender, but is used as a rather arbitrary way to
distinguish nouns (take German, where all nouns have a gender, which
is typically completely arbitrary). Inanimate objects that move or
are used for transportation typically took the femenine gender in
English (a trend which has fallen by the wayside in recent years), I
suppose simply to distinguish them from stationary inanimate
objects. So that is why ships, regardless of the gender of the name,
are traditionally referred to as 'she'. Also, in the old
tune "she'll be coming 'round the mountain...", she 'she' is a
stagecoach - a moving inanimate object.

Anyway, sorry if this is a bit talmudic, but it is the best
explanation I have come across, though not as clever as the one below!



  • Guest
Gender of ships
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2005, 06:23:55 AM »
Just to mess up things, while most locomotives - especially steam - are fondly feminine, it was once common in the US to describe them in the masculine. In 1853 Boston railway critics wrote: "We have too much admiration for the iron horse to allow his lines all angularized; as good taste has been succesfully employed upon cotton machinery, we hope to see something soon on rails that does not resemble a cooking stove on wheels."

In this sense, the engine was literally an iron steed, and male.



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