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:
1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for possible later review; and
4. 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:
1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
2. They have a lot of data but still can’t think for themselves;
3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.
A nice contribution from IT Per in Linkoping