Question Chinese Novels and the translation of Female versus Woman

Discussion in 'Translator's Corner' started by lailai, Nov 25, 2019.

  1. kyuloves

    kyuloves Member

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    Lol... I lived in Singapore and right now in China for university and I have never seen anyone thinking that ‘female’ is a derogatory word.

    Misusage of words is one thing, but thinking ‘female’ is a derogatory word is honestly one of the most degenerate things I have encountered this year lol.

    “Don’t view women as women but derogatorily as ‘females” like jesus christ...

    Oh, funny thing, I remember filling out quite a few forms for visa, ic, university etc, and there would be a (male/female) part that you have to circle. Imagine getting triggered when filling those forms. My god.
     
  2. Shibb

    Shibb Well-Known Member

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    I wasn't 100% on the side of OP at first but your post just made me jump ship. I was iffy before because translating Chinese to "woman" requires more information than most writers give (age). Let's strike "male/female" from the politically correct ways of referring to women in any context but for science and data retrieval purposes.

    As I've mentioned before, this all boils down to culture and how "female" is rarely used as a noun when referring to people in spoken English. It's not that shocking to think "female" is sexist/derogatory. Because it's written text with no actual intonation written down, it highly depends on the reader's cultural knowledge.

    "look at the woman who just walked in" vs "look at the female who just walked in": Which sounds worse?

    "I want to thank the women in the office for making this possible" vs "I want to thank the females in the office for making this possible": Which sounds off and objectifying?

    The reason why "male/female" is used in forms is that there's no 100% guarantee the person filling it out isn't a kid.
     
  3. kyuloves

    kyuloves Member

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    Like I said, misusage of words is one thing. Say for example ‘look at the woman’ vs ‘look at the female’, of course ‘female’ sounds worse, because you should use words depending on who you are referring to, like, ‘look at the little girl’, ‘old lady’, ‘young lady’, or just ‘lady’. And if you really want to go on about this, I would say that using either ‘woman’ or female’ sounds bad, you should be using ‘lady’ instead, assuming you are referring to a woman in her twenties.

    Same goes for ‘i want to thank the women in the office’ vs ‘i want to thank the females in the office’, both honestly sounds bad, whereby ‘i want to thank the ladies in the office’ sounds much better compared and of course, in my opinion, IS the word you should use.

    So in the end, these are what I mean by misusage of words, or usage of words.

    What I’m saying is that, thinking that ‘female’ is a deragotary word is so stupid in my view. And it is even more stupid to think that someone is sexist just because they used ‘female’ instead of ‘woman’. Imagine meeting someone you have never met, and they ask you ‘who is that female’, and the first thing u think is ‘why is she/he using female instead of woman, he is sexist.’ Like god...

    Lastly, do you honestly think kids would be filling out university, ic and visa forms? I mean, even if it isn’t 100% that there won’t be any kids to fill out those kind of forms, how many kids would that be compared to adults lol. For one, I’m pretty sure that the reason my university use ‘male/female’ in their forms is definitely not because that they think that kids would be filling the form lol.
     
  4. Shibb

    Shibb Well-Known Member

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    On the university question: you never know. You are a "child" until you are legally an adult aka 18/21. Even then, no teenager likes to be called boy/girl at 17 or 16 (aka the usual age where IGCSE/GCSE students get to uni).

    On the general forms: I'm guessing you don't remember what age kids get their IC in Singapore/Malaysia? Definitely not at 18. Malaysians get an IC by 12 at least. I'm also guessing you forgot that kids fill in their own visa/immigration forms as well? Sure, the parents always do it but what says that's what's legally meant to happen?

    All the examples you stated, including "lady", requires so much more information. When you mention age, that's something that's only given by the writers for major characters. They rarely ever state if the person is 17 or 20. It's just "a woman"/"the woman". Not even the whole they're obviously adults because they're in a romance fic would work as an excuse here. In the dynasty eras, men had kids by the time they were 17, women even younger. Unless the person knows the fine line being drawn, there's no real confirmation.

    In fact, saying "lady" is rather weird. Are you trying to be an old white dude? Are you trying to impose feminine virtues on a character who might be butch for all you know? "Lady" sounds rather archaic (like what a 40+ man would say instead of a 20+) and has sexist connotations because it's implying the person is feminine (aka in a dress or skirt with genteel manners and what-not). More information is needed other than just a person's gender.

    And yes, if I just heard someone use "female" when talking about a random stranger, I'd question the frick out of them. Small word choices show a lot about someone's character. Just because they're not actually sexist, doesn't mean it can't act as a warning flag. Questions I'd be thinking would be:

    1. Are they even fluent in English?
    2. Are they trying to incite a fight? Insinuate something?
    3. Is this normal for the crowd of friends they hang out with? Does this mean they're likely to be a sexist bunch of macho teens trying to prove how idiotic they are? Are they possibly tradesmen who are stereotypically shown to be rather sexist and crude?
    4. Am I going to be subjected to comments like "oh women", "those females are always xxx", "damn women", "look at that butt/tit"?
    5. Who is this stranger and why are they being so rude about some other person they don't even know?

    You may think that it's stupid, but that just shows how little you've communicated in cultures outside of Asia. You cited being in Singapore then China as your basis on why you think it's stupid. I'm here to tell you that you're just showing how you have no grounds to stand on because of that. Singapore and China are both very Asian countries. You have not shown that you have been having social interactions in countries where people converse in English in a non-Asian culture. You just came in and said it's all stupid just because of some forms and how the Asians don't care about it. This thread is about how using "females" is rather sexist when your readers are from a Western background, not what the Asian culture thinks. You didn't even try to argue/reason anything. You just came in and said this is stupid.
     
  5. jiaowoge

    jiaowoge Well-Known Member

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    Why is this even a post when the answer is so obvious? The answer is that men are both genetically and mentally superior compared to females so it doesn't matter what females get refer to as. Proof? Men doesn't think that they are livestock when they are referred as males, which is why we are mentally superior! Further proof? Females think that they are cows when referred as females. Therefore it doesn't matter if females are called female, women, woman. Not only is female a derogatory word, woman is also a derogatory word. There you have it.
     
  6. jintingmei

    jintingmei Member

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    OP is talking about female as a noun and not a descriptor.

    The reason why forms use male and female is because they are asking whether you're male or female as a sex/gender question. A male human is a man, a female human is a woman.

    While it's not wholly incorrect to refer to people as "the female" or "the male", it's hardly the best word you can use especially in creative writing. Not that using words wrong make you sexist I'll never agree with that. Some dictionaries don't even accept female and male as nouns(Oxford, I believe?).