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Vocabababble: Alumnus

The name plaques given to graduates of my school denotes us each as an alumnus, and I was just informed by a fellow graduate that this use is incorrect. I looked it up. By my assessment it is correct enough. In the English language it is quite traditional to lump females under the male gender term when combining genders in a word. My personal hobby of using she/her as the generic is still quite radical and is likely to be misunderstood. It is worth noting that the gender distribution at NCNM is significantly female preponderant.

Alumnus = a (male or generic) graduate or former student of a specific school, college, or university, or a former associate, employee or member of a group. Alumni is the male or generic plural. Alumna is the feminine individual noun and alumnae is the feminine plural. The word originates from the Latin for foster son or pupil, dating back to 1635–45. Back then girls were even less likely to get edumacated.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
b_vainamoinen
Jun. 29th, 2012 04:04 am (UTC)
That's cute.

Study a language that has gendered nouns.

Tell me about your response to realizing that the word "chair" is universally feminine and then let's get back to what your college degree says.

liveonearth
Jun. 29th, 2012 08:31 pm (UTC)
I have studied German and Spanish, and it amuses me when genders for things switch from one language to the next. The linguistic gender of an item rarely has much meaning to me.

I'm not sure of your point about the femininity of "chair". Auf Deutsch "armchair" is translated as "sessel" which is masculine...in fact a majority of chair types are masculine in gender. En Espanol you are closer to being correct. What does this have to do with the English habit of lumping into maleness?



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