martes, 28 de octubre de 2008

WOMEN AND DANGEROUS THINGS

Rhymes 003Image by didbygraham via Flickr
What are little girls made of?
What are little girls made of?
Sugar and spice
and everything nice,
That’s what little girls are made of.

What are little boys made of?
What are little boys made of?
Hammers and nails
And crocodiles’ tails,
That’s what little boys are made of.


I never understood the rhyme as a child and disliked the idea of being made of edible substance – not to bore you with a penchant for reptiles in early childhood. As an adult, I’ve walked down many different paths in life, and have acquired the “moving-house syndrome” which has led me to be a lot better at hammering than I am at baking

In a book on linguistic categories, George Lakoff reflects on language and gender , and the difficulty of getting the gender issue right when faced by a foreign language in which gender is assigned rather inconsistently, following neither logic nor pattern. (e.g. Why “el”hombre but “la” masculinidad o “la” hombría?” Why “la” vagina but “el” útero?).

As opposed, he talks of the Australian aboriginal language called Dyirbal.

In Dyirbal, nouns fall into four different categories, each of which is preceded by the use of a classifier.

Category 1

WOMEN
FIRE
SCORPIONS
THE SUN
and other “DANGEROUS THINGS”.


Category 2

MEN,
KANGAROOS
THE MOON
RAINBOWS.


Category 3 includes everything edible except animals.
Category 4 includes everything not included in any of the other three.

Ahhh! How I would’ve enjoyed speaking Dyirbal as a child!
Fire, scorpions and the sun – not to mention “other dangerous things” were a lot more in line with my feverish childish imagination!

Category 2 is baffling. Leaving the moon aside, I can figure out the rainbow part – (the pot of gold that’s nothing but an optical illusion) but for the life of me I cannot associate man with a hopping marsupial carrying a babe in a pouch! – Kangaroos are famous for being rather dumb, aren’t they?


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3 comentarios:

Maria dijo...

I think the line "crocodiles' tails" rather far-fetched. I guess whoever wrote this meant lizards' tails but chose crocodiles for meter's sake.
This reminds me that as a child I was fascinated by how lizards cast off their tails when threatened and how the tails kept on wiggling. I used to pick up these tails and put them into my father's Listerine flask. My brothers never did that! Nursery rhymes can be misleading!

PATSY SCOTT dijo...

You bet!

Curly locks, curly locks,
Will you be mine?
You shall not wash dishes
Nor feed the swine,
But sit on a cushion
And sew a fine seam,
And sup upon strawberries,
Sugar, and cream.

maikix dijo...

Admito que no soy hábil con el bricolage, pero tampoco en la cocina!
Resulta muy curiosa la clasificación aborígen australiana de las categorías donde se incluyen los hombres y las mujeres.

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