Letter: Keeping man and woman separate

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The Independent Online
Sir: J. R. Lucas (letter, 22 February) says:

The tendency of European languages, from ancient Greek onwards, has been to extend the masculine to become an all-purpose personal gender.

This is less than half true. It concerns only the languages based on the vulgarised form of Latin such as the Romance languages and in this matter, unfortunately, also English. Other Germanic and all Slavic languages uphold, logically, the semantic distinction of the classical languages: homo/vir in Latin, anthropos/aner in Greek.

Yours faithfully,


University of Lancaster


24 February