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Sometime in recent weeks or months, I've written about spelling ... tense. Would anyone pronounce it any way other than (rEd)?

What's wrong with 'red'?

As long as we're making a break with the past, I favor a distinctive and unambiguous break. I now favor "redd" for the past and past participle and "reedd" for the present and infinitive. No one should mistake them for any other verbs.

I invite discussion about whether we should have a present participle "reedding", a third-person-singular "reedds", an adjective "reeddable", and an agent noun "reedder". I, for one, favor all of them for the sake of consistency..

That they don't look like previously known English words is all to the good.
The only problem you're trying to solve is the fact that there is an ambiguity in writing that isn't present ... re(a)d" would still only be ambiguous in speech. Redd just doesn't look like an English word (a proper name maybe).

Yes, indeed, a proper name: Redd Foxx, beloved curmudgeon, star of "Sanford and Son"
( http://www.cmgww.com/stars/foxx / ).
I'd raher say a ship is feminist than feminine.

That makes no sense to me. "A feminist ship" might make sense if "feminist" were used attributively, so that the phrase meant "a ship belonging to or used by feminists." I found the following metaphorical use on the Internet: "How good does it have to get before we can acknowledge that the feminist ship has come in?" where it means that "feminism has succeeded."
I have a legitimate question (I'm a non-native speaker of English): arethere any inanimate things that are masculine in the English language? I knowthat country, car, ship and others are of female gender.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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It seems to me then, that it is appropriate to say "In English, for some people, ships are female" when ... and referring to it as "feminine"? Is it appropriate, in your opinion, to say "To Captain Picard, starships are female"?

Only if they give birth to shiplets.
Sex is biological, gender is grammatical, cultural and metaphorical.

Therefore I would say it was a gender thing, not a sex thing, and that ships are feminine, not female.

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
I agree with you. A layman is unlikely to use the word "feminine" to mean "female".

Presumably those who design forms that ask for "gender" are not laymen, then.

What are they?

Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm
E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stop uk
I agree with you. A layman is unlikely to use the word "feminine" to mean "female".

Presumably those who design forms that ask for "gender" are not laymen,then. What are they? Steve Hayes from Tshwane, South Africa http://www.geocities.com/Athens/7734/stevesig.htm E-mail - see web page, or parse: shayes at dunelm full stop org full stopuk

You're joking, I expect, but I also expect that you are not simply joking, that there is a serious point behind your comment. If you were attempting to make a serious point, then your comment is a non sequitur.

I agree with Adrian Bailey that "A layman is unlikely to use the word 'feminine' to mean 'female'." However, a designer of forms might very well use the term "gender" instead of "sex" when the desired answer is the sex of the person being questioned. We might try to go into detail explaining just why that is in each case, but it is fundamentally a question of usage, what is (generally) perceived as idiomatic.

Raymond S. Wise
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA
E-mail: mplsray @ yahoo . com
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It seems to me then, that it is appropriate to say "In English, for some people, ships are female" when ... and referring to it as "feminine"? Is it appropriate, in your opinion, to say "To Captain Picard, starships are female"?

Depends on Captain Picard's feelings, really. As you say, there is no gender in English. If nothing here is supposed to be linguistically conditioned, we'd have to know if the good captain sees her as just female or something more, i.e. also endowed with femininity.

As for the real Picard, his language didn't allow him that subjective margin. It was le bathyscaphe, period.
I agree; speaking of ships as "she" or "her" is not at all the same thing as feminine gender of nouns in continental European languages.

Your generalization, which seems to equate continentality with the use of the feminine gender, is a bit too, well, general. There are continental European languages that don't have a feminine gender (e.g. Estonian and Dutch), and there are insular European languages that do (Gaelic, Icelandic, Maltese, and Faroese).
See http://tinyurl.com/4qhnq for documentation.
As a seperate matter, what about men'o'war; are they still female?

Most definitely called 'she', as were the battleships of WWII, and as are the aircraft carriers of today. All ships are shes. With boats, it's often a judgement call. (You'll agree, Armond, will you not?)

Charles Riggs
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What is your opinion? Do you make the same distinction I do between referring to a ship as "female" and referring to it as "feminine"? Is it appropriate, in your opinion, to say "To Captain Picard, starships are female"?

It is pretty clear to me that a ship can not be a female. Still, any man who has fallen in love with ships and the sea has no trouble thinking them feminine. Most all early day sailors were men, not women. The tradition of referring to ships as 'she' remains to this day, even among women who go down to the sea.
I can't understand why some people (Hello, Mizz Conlon) fight the idea.

Charles Riggs
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