dalex's blog

By dalex, history, 3 years ago, In English,

I've just met a comment with a link to a problem statement. There was such text in the statement:

Soon the professor realized that reconstructing Anatoly’s code and the test tree from his output was not a simple task and that the result might be ambiguous. You will have to help her find all possible reconstructions of Anatoly’s code.

Don't you see something weird here? I think it should be:

Soon the professor realized that reconstructing Anatoly’s code and the test tree from his output was not a simple task and that the result might be ambiguous. You will have to help him find all possible reconstructions of Anatoly’s code.

or:

Soon the professor realized that reconstructing Anatoly’s code and the test tree from his output was not a simple task and that the result might be ambiguous. You will have to help them find all possible reconstructions of Anatoly’s code.

I know that people either use the gender that is more common for a person, e.g. he for drivers and she for nurses, or just use they (my English teacher said they is correct). I've wandered across Wikipedia (here is one of the links: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_personal_pronouns#Use_of_he.2C_she_and_it), but haven't found anything about preferrable usage of female pronouns.

However, I've read really a lot of English statements, and everywhere the female pronouns are used! For children and professors, for drivers and miners, for rabbits and foxes, for everything and everyone. Why?

 
 
 
 
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3 years ago, # |
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I don't know what about professors, but I suppose that foxes and rabbits are female in native language of some writers. And I think there is no way to make it correct because in English foxes and rabbits are "it" (and I think saying "them" is incorrect as well). Clearly, the inventors of English language didn't take into account that some day foxes and rabbits will talk, play games or code and will deserve something more than "it".

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3 years ago, # |
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Nice work, community! Post some grammar links here? Get comments from native speakers? No! Just downvote!

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3 years ago, # |
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He is also used really commonly in cases when the gender is unknown. For a long time, male was the dominant/default gender and some people probably use she simply to balance out or promote gender equality or similar. Neither he or she is preferred as far as grammar is concerned. I also think using they is probably the best solution.

However in your example that is not even the case. The professor's gender was previously unknown, but by using she the author indicates that she is, in fact, a woman. And of course problemsetters, like all storytellers, should be free to make their characters whatever gender they want (unless, I guess, the author is deliberately excluding a gender).

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3 years ago, # |
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That sounds quite normal if the problem's background is based on real-life events and people, or taken from existing characters, say novels or movies or ***** (spoiler alert), or just "the" Fox Ciel whom we've seen tens of times. Especially a lot of Div. 2 A-C's, I guess the authors sometimes don't just invent these tasks out of nothing.

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2 years ago, # |
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I found an essay on Wikipedia, which you might take a look at: click.