What gender is computer?

by Volker Weber

A French teacher was explaining to her class that in French, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine: "House" is feminine - "la maison". "Pencil" is masculine - "le crayon". A student asked, "What gender is 'computer'?"

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups-male and female - and asked them to decide for themselves whether "computer" should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for their recommendation.

The men's group decided that "computer" should definitely be of the feminine gender ("la computer"), because:
* No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
* The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
* Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later review; and
* As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your salary on accessories for it.

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be masculine ("le computer") because:
* In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
* They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;
* They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and
* As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

[via mail from Schweppes]

Comments

Nice story, but the French word for computer is "ordinateur", not "computer". So it's "l'ordinateur". And it's masculine.

Horst, 2003-02-17

Good stories don't have to be true. :-)

Volker Weber, 2003-02-17

Nor the web addresses either?

The Schweppes address suffered a little in the cut/paste ;-)

John Keys, 2003-02-17

Fixed. Thank you.

Volker Weber, 2003-02-17

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