Musing 3

The cultural concept of a city seems very masculine to me but interestingly, the origin of the word “city” itself is of feminine nature. In German, French and Italian, for example, the word for city/town is die Stadt, la ville, and la citta which indicates that the city is female because of its feminine definite article (die, la). Furthermore, the term “metropolis” derives from the Greek word for “mother” and “city.” Any thought on this contradiction?

Solve This Mystery and Win a Free Dinner!


This post is directed at people who can speak Vietnamese: I’ve been thinking about this language mystery a lot and haven’t found a good answer for it. You guys might think that this mystery is such a nonsense but as a language lover I can’t help wondering about it. Here’s the question:

I think Vietnamese is a gender-biased language with the preference of the masculine over the feminine. Men usually get to be mentioned first:  ông bà, bố mẹ,  thầy cô, anh chị em, etc.

But: what about cô chú ? Why is “cô” in front of “chú” ? What makes “cô chú” special?

I’m perfectly aware that there is no right answer for this but there might be some convincing theories out there. Show me your answer/theory by leaving a comment on this post or sending an email to ht.onair AT gmail DOT com. The deadline is 30/09/2012. Solve this mystery and get a free dinner with me.  In fact, I will come to your city and invite you to dinner in a restaurant of your choice!

I look forward to receiving your answers.