We live through maps (0a): Chapter zero – Mythos over logos.

[continued from the previous post, this series of posts is a complete translation of `Philosophy Paper, written by F.A. Waaldijk, student of mathematics, student number 8327661, in the year 1991′]

[—–second post in the translation—–]

Chapter zero

Mythos over logos.

Before I really begin a number of new words remain to be clarified. It concerns the word `ve’ [`vij’] and the appropriate declinations `vir’ [`vier’ en `viere’] and `hav’ [`hav’].

In Dutch [and partly English], we almost always need to specify the gender of the person or the object under discussion. `He came to stand next to me’, `I saw her walking across the street’, `have you called him already?’, etcetera. Often this gender is completely inconsequential, what does it essentially matter whether the baker is a woman or a man? The most important is that ve is a baker! At least in my eyes.

In these situations I wonder if we can effectively combat gender-based discrimination, when we perceive the world so strongly in woman-man terms that we always have to describe any given person firstly by gender. I myself support the idea that women and men are firstly human, irrespective of their gender. I also believe that the continuous stressing of the gender difference promotes gender-based discrimination [1]. A few years ago I therefore came up with some new words which can replace the traditional `she’ and `he’, in situations where gender difference is irrelevant:

she   [zij]                             he    [hij]                          ve   [vij]
her   [haar, haar (mv.)]          his    [zijn, zijn (mv.)]        vir   [vier, viere (mv.) [2]]
her   [haar]                           him   [hem]                     hav  [hav [3]] (also havself)

This is also a convenient way [in Dutch] to once and for all put an end to problems like `de Waal en haar? zijn? oevers’ [in English this problem doesn’t occur: `the Waal and its banks’]. From now on this becomes `de Waal en viere oevers’. And similarly: `het parlement en viere bevoegdheden; de gemeenteraad en vier voorzitter’ [`Parliament and its competencies; the city council and its president’]

Let us utilize this subject to address a much deeper issue. I introduce you to one of my acquaintances, a child called Nne. Nne can already talk a little. Vir aunt, aunt Josje, is visiting and coffee is served. Nne also wants coffee, and makes this known by saying:

– Me too coffee, me too
– No, Nne, that won’t do. Coffee is for grown-ups. Coffee is bad for little children. Would you like some delicious lemonade?
– But hé also gets coffee! I want too, me too coffee.

The grown-ups chuckle about Nne, who doesn’t understand this and thinks it mean.

-Listen, Nne. Aunt Josje is a woman so then you don’t say: hé also gets coffee, but…? shé also gets coffee. More importantly, Aunt Josje is big, she is grown-up. When you get to be big you can also drink coffee.

Nne therefore has to content havself with lemonade, and as a reward for doing that ve may enjoy some more education.

– Say, Nne, daddy is a…?
– Daddy
– Yes it’s about daddy. Daddy is a …?
– Daddy is a daddy.

Again laughter.

– Nne, daddy is a man. A man. And mommy? Mommy is a …?
– Woman
– Very good Nne. And aunt Josje is a …?
– Woman
– Very good. And uncle Henk is a …?
– Woman

Laughter again.

– No, Nne, uncle Henk is a man. Look, he has a beard. And he can talk in a really low voice. Henk, say `hoohoohoo’ very low, won’t you?
– Hoohoohoo.
– And you, when you get to be big, you will be a …?

But now Nne really has had enough. Ve walks away with vir glass of lemonade to more interesting places.

[—–to be continued in the next post—–]


1. `To discriminate’ actually means: `to differentiate between’

2. The objection that `vier’ already means something else [in Dutch] lapses when you compare it to `haar’ en `zijn’

3. Thought up by Reinier Post as improvement of `haam’. [in Dutch a construction like `havself’ is unneccessary.]

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About fwaaldijk

mathematician (foundations & topology in constructive mathematics) and visual artist
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