He, she or it?

Wout Blommers
Wout Blommers
@wout-blommers
8 years ago
100 posts

Der dulcimer sounds goodto me Smile.gif

Wout

RavenMadd Garcia
RavenMadd Garcia
@ravenmadd-garcia
8 years ago
41 posts

this is a 30 page thread in the making24.gif24.gif24.gif

Peter W.
Peter W.
@peter-w
8 years ago
49 posts

Nice to see that my question still brings joy to some people even more than two weeks after I had started this thread... Grin.gif

As to my grammer problem: despite the standard "Duden" dictionary says "die Dulcimer" (fem.), most of the mountain dulcimer players I am in contact with here in Germany (and some standard musicology books on instruments) seem to say "der Dulcimer" (masc.), so I am in good company when I stick with that as well. Wilfried Ulrich is of course an important authority as well.

Thanks to all who contributed their thoughts to this (maybe peculiar but hopefully not annoying) discussion... Smile.gif

Macy Jayne
Macy Jayne
@macy-jayne
8 years ago
22 posts

CB, what is this about 'another on the way', lol GF, tryin to catch up to DanaGrin.gif

Carrie Barnes said:

ROFL Dusty, I have to agree w/the full figure woman comment!Grin.gif Goschi, I always refer to my dulcimers a she, her, "the ladies", etc. And like Dusty have named everyone of mine, tho no boys in the crowd as yet. Andi Waywego, Lily Langtree, and Mae West for starters, another on the way, will have to wait and see what she's like before naming her!Grin.gif

Macy Jayne
Macy Jayne
@macy-jayne
8 years ago
22 posts

Goschi, you had me at "Sack" is masculine, lol, can't stop laughingGrin.gif

Ken Hulme
Ken Hulme
@ken-hulme
8 years ago
1,669 posts

I'm another that refers to dulcimers as "it". In German, since the dulcimer derived from the general zitter (most probably NOT specifically the scheitholt, in spite of Praetorius) I would use the feminine form...

folkfan
@folkfan
8 years ago
378 posts

I refer to them as its. What is it? It's a dulcimer. Though some of mine are given feminine names, others are neutral as to sex. Der, Die or Das? DAS

Gayle Maurer
Gayle Maurer
@gayle-maurer
8 years ago
31 posts

Oh dear! I never gave it a thought and (possibly incorrectly) have been referring to my dulcimer as "it". I haven't thought of it as either male or female and I haven't named it. Of course, I never even named my dolls - unless they came with a name. This was pointed out to me when a friend told me she even named her blankets when she was a kid (hm, maybe she still does?!?). Well, I hope I haven't traumatized the poor thing. I have decided, since mine is hour glass shaped, it will be a she. I hereby name her Hannah after my great-great-grandmother. I would dearly love a pear shaped one which will be a he (name to be decided later). Maybe there will be some of those itty-bitty dulcimers someday. I am so glad you people set me straight!

Oh, by the way, Sam..... No offense, but Hannah is off limits!68.gif68.gif68.gif68.gif68.gif24.gif78.gif24.gif

Wout Blommers
Wout Blommers
@wout-blommers
8 years ago
100 posts

Goshi,

I think you could ask Ulricus. I think he is a member of this forum too. He is German, well, at least Ost-Frisian, and somebody who wrote about the dulcimer and more specific about the Hummle.

I know in English the gender of a word isn't important, but in written German, specific the more serious writings, it is. I think Ulricus has been through this too...

See http://mountaindulcimer.ning.com/main/search/search?q=ulricus

Wout

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
8 years ago
1,184 posts

Excellent research, BRAshley!

B. Ross Ashley said:

That would be dulse , Benjamin, with an s, not a c. [Scottish Gaelic duileasg , from Old Irish duilesc .] at The Free Dictionary , it's not got anything to do with sweetness.





--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
B. Ross Ashley
B. Ross Ashley
@b-ross-ashley
8 years ago
40 posts

That would be dulse , Benjamin, with an s, not a c. [Scottish Gaelic duileasg , from Old Irish duilesc .] at The Free Dictionary , it's not got anything to do with sweetness.



Benjamin W Barr Jr said:

Wow! What an interesting thread! I should sharpen up my linguistics should I have a mind to enter into this tale that is being woven.

I recall trying to search out the meaning or origin of dulcimer. Somewhere (perhaps it was over the rainbow?) I read that the word dulce was German and meant sweet. I suppose it could be Latin and Greek as Goschi states.

Anyway, I think that I concluded sweet for Dulce and that the other half would be music, so I like to think of it as "sweet music".

However, to throw something else that I don't know the exact origin to is that my cousins from New Brunswick, Canada call seaweed Dulce. I have tried it and find it is anything but sweet! Of course, my cousins look at me as if I"m kinda strange35.gif , especially not only because I don't like "dulce" but that I don't drink my tea with milk!102.gif

Well, that's my tale and I'm sticking to it...until a better one comes along!78.gif

Kristi Keller
Kristi Keller
@kristi-keller
8 years ago
89 posts

Great story!

Dusty Turtle said:

Check out this story about why B.B. King named his guitar "Lucille":

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
8 years ago
1,184 posts

Check out this story about why B.B. King named his guitar "Lucille":




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Kristi Keller
Kristi Keller
@kristi-keller
8 years ago
89 posts

I am among those who have failed to consider gender among my instruments. Nor have they been given names other than those of their makers. Hmmm. Must be failing in imaginative powers.

Peter W.
Peter W.
@peter-w
8 years ago
49 posts

Ah, thank you Rob - that is a really strong argument for using the masculine article! I've visited his website before and the instruments he makes look beautiful. And there's also a picture comparing a woman's shape with that of an hourglass dulcimer!

Just to increase confusion a bit: the grammatical genus and the name I give to my items because of the emotion I have for them, don't necessarily need to correspond. So - if I wanted to do so - I could say: "Mein Dulcimer [masculine] heit Mary-Ann!" (My dulcimer is called Mary-Ann" or also "Meine Posaune [feminine] heit Karl-Theodor!" (My trombone is called Charles Theodor).

That might provoke some head-shaking among the people I talk to - but still, that would be grammatically correct...
Carolyn Fleming
Carolyn Fleming
@carolyn-fleming
8 years ago
5 posts

I think if the body is curved it's female and if its not it's male .I often attribute female names to my orchids. My Fiddle is Nellie Jo. My dulcimer is Mary Katherine.

RavenMadd Garcia
RavenMadd Garcia
@ravenmadd-garcia
8 years ago
41 posts

funny my guitars are named ...but not my dulcimers?.......so doctor is there a reason?

Dusty Turtle said:

Funny, when I was writing my comment about one of my dulcimers being a tomboy, I had a weird feeling of dja-vue. Now I know why; check out this discussion that I started one late night and subsequently forgot about: http://mountaindulcimer.ning.com/forum/topics/dulcimer-gender-studies .

RavenMadd Garcia
RavenMadd Garcia
@ravenmadd-garcia
8 years ago
41 posts

baby ...all my instruments are my babies....no gender ...,my friend does call my instrument collection my girls or Raven's Harem...........lol

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
8 years ago
1,184 posts

Funny, when I was writing my comment about one of my dulcimers being a tomboy, I had a weird feeling of dja-vue. Now I know why; check out this discussion that I started one late night and subsequently forgot about: http://mountaindulcimer.ning.com/forum/topics/dulcimer-gender-studies .




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
John Henry
John Henry
@john-henry
8 years ago
258 posts

Steph, no hospital, definately 'the doghouse' Thank you Goschi for raising this post and thus promoting some interesting answers.

John

John Keane
John Keane
@john-keane
8 years ago
193 posts

That's already taken! Grin.gif

Geekling said:

Since you're receiving two McSpaddens, one being a Ginger, I think the other one should be named Mary Anne!Grin.gif

Dana R. McCall
Dana R. McCall
@dana-r-mccall
8 years ago
183 posts

LOL That's good because I couldn't find it again anyway102.gif . But it was in good taste,25.gif just a shapely woman lying with her back to the camera and a dulcimer laying the same way in the forground mimicing the same curve of the womans waist and hips. Really pretty picture. Anyway, your right we don't seem to have the same prob you do in the english language. It's just a preferance of ours to add gender to our instruments. I love the smileys tooo! 113.gif

Peter W.
Peter W.
@peter-w
8 years ago
49 posts

Thanks Dana and Dusty Turtle - I think my imagination is sufficent to fancy that without needing a picture. 109.gif
Thanks to all of you for contributing your thoughts and tales! 113.gif

I'm satisfied with the answers you gave - nevertheless, feel free to add your ideas on a problem that doesn't seem to be one in the English language! Smile.gif

So I can take my dulcimer now and play a little bit of sweet music on... mmh, her. 11.gif

(Did I already mention that I like the choice of smileys around here? 36.gif41.gif67.gif )

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
8 years ago
1,184 posts

Ihave adigital copy of this picture -- or at leasta similar one --buthesitate to post itboth because it shows a woman's bear bottom and also because I just copied if off the web somewhere and have no ideaif it is copyrighted or what. If anyone is interested in seeing the picture, send me a personal message and I'll point you to it.

Dana R. McCall said:

There is a neat picture of a dulcimer compared to a womans body, if I can find it again I will post it.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Benjamin W Barr Jr
Benjamin W Barr Jr
@benjamin-w-barr-jr
8 years ago
62 posts

Wow! What an interesting thread! I should sharpen up my linguistics should I have a mind to enter into this tale that is being woven.

I recall trying to search out the meaning or origin of dulcimer. Somewhere (perhaps it was over the rainbow?) I read that the word dulce was German and meant sweet. I suppose it could be Latin and Greek as Goschi states.

Anyway, I think that I concluded sweet for Dulce and that the other half would be music, so I like to think of it as "sweet music".

However, to throw something else that I don't know the exact origin to is that my cousins from New Brunswick, Canada call seaweed Dulce. I have tried it and find it is anything but sweet! Of course, my cousins look at me as if I"m kinda strange35.gif , especially not only because I don't like "dulce" but that I don't drink my tea with milk!102.gif

Well, that's my tale and I'm sticking to it...until a better one comes along!78.gif

John Henry
John Henry
@john-henry
8 years ago
258 posts

One Hundred percent correct Dana, she took it kinda personal 45.gif !

John

Dana R. McCall
Dana R. McCall
@dana-r-mccall
8 years ago
183 posts

Goschi, I really enjoyed your comments and explnation of the German language concerning the gender of things. Never thought of it in the sence you are saying about gender of an object, it is very interesting. Thank you for posting. There is a neat picture of a dulcimer compared to a womans body, if I can find it again I will post it.

Goschi said:

Thanks for all your answers and different opinions! I appreciate all of them and some really made me laugh!Grin.gif It was a serious question but one should not take that too seriously!

If you look at it from a statistical point of view, it is true that in the German language many musical instruments are regarded as being feminine (trumpet, trombone, violin [BUT: a cello is neuter!], organ, guitar, zither but also flute / recorder, so maybe Freud could have been mistaken at that point) or neuter (piano, accordion, bugle / cornet, cello, saxophone, banjo [even though it has a guitar-like neck!]), glockenspiel, Scheitholt etc.). Compared to that, I have found only very few examples for musical instruments that are regarded as being masculine in the German language. Most of them are compound words, and the genus is given by the last word component for example "Der Dudelsack" (bagpipe), because "Sack" is masculine.

Interesting: in German grammar, the word "chalumeau" is defined as being neuter. The corresponding word "Schalmei", which has come into the German language some centuries earlier, is defined as being feminine. So that example shows that words can change their genus over the years.

Now to make things even more complicated, the word "dulcimer" seems to be derivated from a mixed expression "dulce" (Latin) and "melos" (Greek). "melos" / "" in Greek is an irregular word (because it is neuter, but doesn't have the "typical" ending for neutral words ("-on"), but "-os", which in most cases is the ending for masculine words in Greek). Mmmh, that doesn't make things easier...

The problem is: there are "logical" arguments for all three alternatives.

Grammaticaly, I have been tending to use the masculine article so far.

But on the other hand, I can't deny that my hourglass dulcimer in fact has appealing curves and I think these emotions could persuade me to look at my dulcimer as being a "she" from now on 8.gif

On the other hand again I am expecting to receive two McSpadden dulcimers in a few weeks. One of them is a "Ginger" model. Now I wonder: should I name the other one (a standard model) "Fred"? Questions upon questions

Dana R. McCall
Dana R. McCall
@dana-r-mccall
8 years ago
183 posts

I just seem to alway call mine female,39.gif prob because of the beautiful shape15.gif . Although if they made a dulcimer based on my shape it would look more like a kettle drum24.gif . Most of mine have female names, my favorite being Curly Sue, she is a modern mountain made of curly maple with a beautiful voice69.gif . She's a big girl though and has a double bottom like me17.gif . LOL

Dana R. McCall
Dana R. McCall
@dana-r-mccall
8 years ago
183 posts

Sam your just BAD! LOL 24.gif24.gif24.gif

Sam said:

Well when one sits on MY lap and I gently rub oil along all those curves, in and around all those nooks, crannies, orifaces ... believe me .. it's a SHE !!!!!!!!!!!!!

Dana R. McCall
Dana R. McCall
@dana-r-mccall
8 years ago
183 posts

OH NO YOU DIDN"T!!!!40.gif LOL But your little wifie gave you a good going 68.gif over when you got home. And well deserved I might add.3.gif24.gif

John Henry said:

Wow ! Every now and again this site throws me a 'curved ball', and I worry about whether I am clever enough to be here 39.gif ! Four wartime years of school in England left huge holes in some of my early educational basics, and I have been playing catchup ever since, as evidenced by my shortcomings on this darned machine 40.gif !!! The forgoing makes interesting reading tho, and back to the original premiss, I am with Ken in that my dulcimers are 'it' rather than 'he or she' 26.gif . If I talk of them then it would be my 'Baritone', my 'English Walnut', my 'TMB', the 'Purpleheart', or my 'Virginia' (whoops, exception to the rule there, tho' with good reason !) Just once did I make the connection between dulcimers and gender 35.gif ! At the start of a performance at our church where the audience in the main had never heard or seen such an instrument, I made the mistake of holding an hourglass in one hand and a teardrop in the other and jocularly liking them to progressive stages in the female form. Yes, my wife was in the audience 45.gif !!!

I repeat, definately 'it' for me !

JohnH

(how could anyone resist not referring to 'my sweet little Ginger',3.gif Carrie?)

John Henry
John Henry
@john-henry
8 years ago
258 posts

Wow ! Every now and again this site throws me a 'curved ball', and I worry about whether I am clever enough to be here 39.gif ! Four wartime years of school in England left huge holes in some of my early educational basics, and I have been playing catchup ever since, as evidenced by my shortcomings on this darned machine 40.gif !!! The forgoing makes interesting reading tho, and back to the original premiss, I am with Ken in that my dulcimers are 'it' rather than 'he or she' 26.gif . If I talk of them then it would be my 'Baritone', my 'English Walnut', my 'TMB', the 'Purpleheart', or my 'Virginia' (whoops, exception to the rule there, tho' with good reason !) Just once did I make the connection between dulcimers and gender 35.gif ! At the start of a performance at our church where the audience in the main had never heard or seen such an instrument, I made the mistake of holding an hourglass in one hand and a teardrop in the other and jocularly liking them to progressive stages in the female form. Yes, my wife was in the audience 45.gif !!!

I repeat, definately 'it' for me !

JohnH

(how could anyone resist not referring to 'my sweet little Ginger',3.gif Carrie?)

Sam
Sam
@sam
8 years ago
177 posts

Well when one sits on MY lap and I gently rub oil along all those curves, in and around all those nooks, crannies, orifaces ... believe me .. it's a SHE !!!!!!!!!!!!!




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Peter W.
Peter W.
@peter-w
8 years ago
49 posts

Thanks for all your answers and different opinions! I appreciate all of them and some really made me laugh!Grin.gif It was a serious question but one should not take that too seriously!

If you look at it from a statistical point of view, it is true that in the German language many musical instruments are regarded as being feminine (trumpet, trombone, violin [BUT: a cello is neuter!], organ, guitar, zither but also flute / recorder, so maybe Freud could have been mistaken at that point) or neuter (piano, accordion, bugle / cornet, cello, saxophone, banjo [even though it has a guitar-like neck!]), glockenspiel, Scheitholt etc.). Compared to that, I have found only very few examples for musical instruments that are regarded as being masculine in the German language. Most of them are compound words, and the genus is given by the last word component for example "Der Dudelsack" (bagpipe), because "Sack" is masculine.

Interesting: in German grammar, the word "chalumeau" is defined as being neuter. The corresponding word "Schalmei", which has come into the German language some centuries earlier, is defined as being feminine. So that example shows that words can change their genus over the years.

Now to make things even more complicated, the word "dulcimer" seems to be derivated from a mixed expression "dulce" (Latin) and "melos" (Greek). "melos" / "" in Greek is an irregular word (because it is neuter, but doesn't have the "typical" ending for neutral words ("-on"), but "-os", which in most cases is the ending for masculine words in Greek). Mmmh, that doesn't make things easier...

The problem is: there are "logical" arguments for all three alternatives.

Grammaticaly, I have been tending to use the masculine article so far.

But on the other hand, I can't deny that my hourglass dulcimer in fact has appealing curves and I think these emotions could persuade me to look at my dulcimer as being a "she" from now on 8.gif

On the other hand again I am expecting to receive two McSpadden dulcimers in a few weeks. One of them is a "Ginger" model. Now I wonder: should I name the other one (a standard model) "Fred"? Questions upon questions

Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
8 years ago
245 posts

The question was not about culture, but about proper grammar. I merely put as humorous a spin on it as I could, since I know almost nothing of German, and had sufficient low grades in English to make that suspect, also! Adding something intelligent to the discussion was, shall we say, "Not my strong suit?" In a battle of wits, I'm unarmed!

Paul

Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
8 years ago
1,184 posts

Paul, you are certainly correct in a factual sense that the words for material objects in English have no gender. But cultural significance is different. Why do we give boats female names? Until about two years ago all hurricanes had female names. Why? When Chuck Berry sholds his guitar between his legs with the neck sticking out and dances toward the audience, he is celebrating it as a phallic object. And in scholarly circles, people who study semiotics (the study of signs) usually see round as feminine and straight as masculine. So objects can have certain cultural meanings even if grammatically those meanings make no sense. I think that is the case with dulcimers. Most people who name their dulcimers choose female names. That is not the same as the grammatical question about whether the word for dulcimer in German should be male or female, but it is fun to think about.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Paul Certo
Paul Certo
@paul-certo
8 years ago
245 posts

I don't think English is bound by the same rules that the German language uses. At least, I don't recall any of my teachers discussing the gender of manufactured objects. Plants have male and female parts, but I never heard of a guitar neck as a phallic object. What about the carrots and parsnips in a stew? I don't think naming dulcimers is conclusive evidence, as the person selecting the name may or may not consider gender. And how would we know? I can look under a puppy to find out, but how do you judge a clam, or an earthworm? I never name my instruments, but daughter Marianne did name one of them Chupacabra. http://www.princeton.edu/~accion/chupa.html This is still inconclusive, as Chupacabra may derive from Spanish, and follow different rules than English or German. And my dulcimer never ate no goat, unless it snuck out while I was asleep! I did eat goat in a restaurant once. Was tasty, too. Maybe I'm a Chupacabras? More importantly, why does spell check not accept "snuck?" Did I spell it wrong?

Paul

PS: What if Dulcimer doesn't follow English rules, either? Is it totally anarchistic? Oh, The HUMANITIES!

Ken Longfield
Ken Longfield
@ken-longfield
8 years ago
638 posts

I am probably in the minority in that I consider all musical instruments to be its. No gender. I studied German in high school and college. I think there are other instruments using the feminine article, but I do not know what they are. It is just one of those recollections from many years ago.

Sam
Sam
@sam
8 years ago
177 posts

One of my home made ones was named in the male gender immediately upon coming home to inspect the gluing of the sides to the end blocks. They'd slipped ... "Son of a ............................... Frown.gif




--
The Dulcimer. If you want to preserve it, jam it!
Dusty Turtle
Dusty Turtle
@dusty-turtle
8 years ago
1,184 posts

Just look at those curves! That's got to be a full-figured woman!

It is true that most people refer to their dulcimers as female. Interestingly, guitars are more ambivalent. The body is usually seen as representing the female body, but the neck is a phallic symbol.

In all seriousness, since dulcimer is not a German word, I don't think the "er" ending is relevant. What about " scheitholt" ? Is that word masculine or feminine? According to my German pocket dictionarythe word " Zither " is feminine. That seems as good a reason as any to consider the dulcimer feminine as well.

On a personal note, I name all my dulcimers. They all have female names except for a couple whose names are not sex-specific. One has dolphin soundholes and my daughter named it Splash. One has dragonfly insets in the soundholes and we call it Dragonfly. But the others have female names: Rosa, Lucinda, Liza, Queenie. Lucinda's a tomboy ( Wildfang ), though. Grin.gif And I have yet to name my baritone dulcimer, though the lower range might indicate a male voicing. I'm thinking Otis.




--
Dusty T., Northern California
Site Moderator

As a musician, you have to keep one foot back in the past and one foot forward into the future.
-- Dizzy Gillespie
Peter W.
Peter W.
@peter-w
8 years ago
49 posts

When talking about the mountain dulcimer with my friends in Germany, there's always a little uncertainty about the genus of our instrument.

In German you can't just use "the" or "a" as definite or undefinite article with a noun - you have to make clear whether the thing you talk about is male, female or neuter by using "der, die, das" or "ein, eine, ein".
Now the "Duden" dictionary (it is THE reference / authority for correct German) says it is female, so it should be "die Dulcimer".

On the other hand - in literature and in documents on the web (including the German wikipedia) you find many examples for the use of the male article, "der Dulcimer". The reason for that may be that in genuine German words the ending "-er" is almost always an ending for things (or animals and plants) considered to be male.

Now again, "dulcimer" is not a genuine German word, but descends from Greek and Latin words, and went a long way round from there to French, and from there into the English word pool (I'm not a linguist and that may not be accurate, but you understand what I mean). Confusing.

So my question is:

When you talk about dulcimers (or when you hold one and play it), do you regard it as a "he", "she" or "it"?

Sorry if this has been discussed here before. Hope my English is good enough to explain what I'm asking for.7.gif

I'm curious about your answers! :D


updated by @peter-w: 04/13/18 04:03:44PM