Mini-Presentation–The Feminity of Ships/Languages


  • Ships are related to as “she’s” because (first of all) the word for ship in most Indo-European languages with grammatical gender is feminine.
  • Sailors call their ships a “she” because the amount of time they spend on the ship is akin to marriage..Divorce rates are subsequently higher among sailors for this reason
  • To the sailor, the ship is his feminine companion that he loves, lives, and cares for.
  • Also the saying, “Respect a ship like you would a lady” may have had some influence in ship gender choice
  • Mother Nature-”she”-sailors depend upon good relations with her (relate her to the ship)


  • The earliest Proto-Indo-European language had two genders (animate and inanimate) and the animate later split into masculine and feminine¬†¬† (inanimate-neuter)
  • All languages come from one parent family (mother)–common descent–German (mother)–English (daughter)
  • French and Italian, which are 89% similar, are called sister languages
  • Origins of femininity-Most likely similar to ships, in that since primary users were mostly male, referring to language as female was more appealing to them
  • Modern English that we speak today is considered to be gender-neutral and there have been calls to simply refer to the language as “it”
  • El Fin

One Comment

  1. Jared:

    Also the Latin origin word for “language” — “lingua,” meaning “tongue” — again, surprise, is feminine as well