A language instructor was explaining to her class that in French,
unlike their English counterparts, are grammatically designated as
masculine or feminine.
“House,” in French, is feminine–“la maison.” “Pencil,” in French, is
One puzzled student asked, “What gender is computer?”
The teacher did not know, and the word wasn’t in her French
So for fun she split the class into two groups appropriately enough,
gender, and asked them to decide whether “computer” should be a
masculine or feminine noun.
Both groups were required to give four reasons for their
The men’s group decided that computers should definitely be of the
feminine gender (“la computer”), because:
1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is
incomprehensible to everyone else;
3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for
possible later retrieval; and
4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending
half your pay check on accessories for it.
The women’s group, however, concluded that computers should be
(“le computer”), because:
1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
2. They have a lot of data but still can’t think for themselves;
3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time
they ARE the problem; and
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you’d waited
little longer, you could have gotten a better model.
The women won.