Powerful Portuguese grannies

When learning French, Spanish and now Portuguese it has been drummed into my English head that a group of mixed males and females takes the male gender (even if there are 100 females and only 1 male), e.g. os pais for both parents and not as mães :).

Portuguese grandmothers seem to have forced a compromise with os avós for the grandparents with avó (grandmother) and not avô (grandfather) but still with the male article.

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Haha, yes :slight_smile: We say os avós to refer to grandparents in general. Os avôs is reserved to a group of grandfathers and as avós for grandmothers. I read a long explanation about this which states that os avós was the original masculine plural (and also used for grandparents in general) and that os avôs evolved later to sort out the ambiguity, but I couldn’t find any more sources.

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I’m reading an article in a French magazine at the moment which implies that French is (like other Latin languages) sexist.
It starts by saying that all French school children learn the expression ‘Le masculin l’emporte’ (masculine prevails) for all plural group names. Perhaps you have a similar expression in Portuguese?

The article goes on to suggest that group name words should include both genders so that voters, for example, should be written as ‘des électeur.ice.s’ so that it embraces both the male voters ‘les électeurs’ and female voters ‘les électrices’.

It also points out that the word ‘homme’ is often used for both men and women, e.g. ‘human rights’ becomes ‘droits de l’homme’ and not ‘droits humains’.

I would be interested to know if you having any similar discussions in Portugal?

One I like in Portuguese is “o feminismo”.
Feminism…expressed in the masculine.
That must ruffle some feathers.


We don’t!

Yes, on some residual level, but it’s not a hot topic here (as far as I know personally). The former Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff started a more prominent discussion on this when she made it a point to call herself “presidenta”. But since “presidente” is actually a pretty neutral word, her affirmative action was, to me, a bit misdirected.

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