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by brenta » Fri Sep 10, 2010 3:13 pm

Die Jungfrau.

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by Moni » Fri Sep 10, 2010 4:41 pm

brenta wrote:Die Jungfrau.

Oh - of course! Die Wyssi Frau is another.

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by hansw » Fri Sep 10, 2010 5:56 pm

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by nartreb » Fri Sep 10, 2010 6:40 pm

In Romance languages, "mountain" is a feminine noun but "mount" is masculine, and they're perfect synonyms. (Once upon a time "mountain" was an adjective, but that's another story.) So you can refer to any mountain as either "he" or "she" depending which word for "mountain" you use. So Mont Blanc for example has a masculine name, but you could easily refer to her (see what I did there?) as a "mountain" and then use a feminine pronoun later in the sentence.

The gender of a word doesn't mean much. I probably know dozens of French slang words for penis, and I can't easily recall any that are masculine nouns.

I think some japanese mountains are called "sir" (-san) but that might not really be a gendered title. Actually I think it's a relic of the old chinese/korean word for mountain (shan / san) and probably not directly related to the word for "sir"

Back to English, I can't think of any examples of writers referring to mountains as female. Ships, yes; mountains no.

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by CindyAbbott » Sat Sep 11, 2010 4:34 pm

Thanks everyone for your help with this question.

It appears to have many aspects and answers.

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by klk » Sat Sep 11, 2010 5:10 pm

One of the reason the answers are all over the place, is that the gendering of topographic names varies dramatically by culture and by historic period.

Susan Schrepfer, Nature's Altars, is a really good account of mountaineering and gender in the Sierras in the 19th and early 20th century. In California, climbers, clubbers and mapmakers developed a pretty consistent habit of naming topographic features along gender lines: masculine mountains, feminine lakes.

Look at any map of the Sierra and you can see the pattern. There are exceptions, but they are, well, exceptional.

The Alps was different. There were so many distinct local communities, speaking so many different languages and dialects, that in many places, the names still haven't been standardized (South Tyrol, for example, has different German, Italian and Ladin names for most peaks.)

Placenaming has recently gotten a lot of scholarly attention, some of it really well done. The best book I know is Keith Basso's Wisdom Sits in Places, on the Western Apache in Arizona. Not specifically on mountains, but a remarkable book.


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