Sunday, December 01, 2013

"I me mine": gender and the possessive pronoun

Commenting on the latest twist in the Lawson-Saatchi feud, John Ward says:

"For me, Nigella had always represented a figure of fun: the personification of how too much money and bubble-based privilege can lead to idiotic comments such as “The best vinegar to add at this stage in the cooking is cider, but if you’ve run out, Champagne vinegar will do just as well”. But behind all that, I felt a background unease about the sheer size of her ego: how every dish was ‘my’ Christmas Turkey or ‘my’ summer salad."

Actually, this is something many women do, if you take the trouble to listen to them. This is (I venture to suggest) because they are more relationship-focused; they are also (I think) more likely to invest inanimate objects with personalities.

If you watch Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's cookery programmes (at least the early series) you may note - it stuck me quite forcefully at the time - that he does this "I/my" thing consistently. At first I found it irritating, but then I came to admire him, for I realised that he was mimicking the feminine use of language to appeal more strongly to his audience.

My wife says that in the quoted context, it's also about food as giving something of yourself.

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A K Haart said...

Interesting. I've noticed this, but never saw it as gender-related.

Paddington said...

I have noticed that women appear to see most things as they relate 'to them'. Men, for the most part, don't appear to care. Hence, dress sense.