referring a country as "her"

renate   Tue Aug 15, 2006 12:18 pm GMT
so i found it understandable in referring one nation as 'her' where people praise it because her landscape or sth.

BUt,when i read a book detailing the seond world war,i found it amusing to see saying a country as her.EVEN IN WAR!
so i think it is man being the mojority to fight.

I really hope one day,people don't talk about Geroge w Bush as "her" otherwise he probabaly would carry on another war against China or somewhere in order to prove that he is masculate enough to deserve the title "he"
Glikeria   Wed Aug 16, 2006 5:48 am GMT
IMHO denoting a country as "she" is neutral. The point has nothing to do with Bush - he is not a country.
renate   Wed Aug 16, 2006 8:29 am GMT
like even a war?
war has almost nothing to do with women
Uriel   Wed Aug 16, 2006 9:44 am GMT
"She" is a poetic usage, or a literary conceit. Referring to countries as "she" has nothing to do with war. Being in a state of war would in no way preclude calling a country "she" -- it's not really about literally being feminine or masculine.

And wars happen to everybody -- male and female. It's not like men are shot in the streets while women go humming along about their business, completely unfazed.
fab   Wed Aug 16, 2006 11:21 am GMT
I think it comes from a fashion from Romance languages where most countries are feminine.
La France, La Grande Bretagne, L'Australie, L'Irlande, La Suisse, L'Italie, L'Espagne, La Chine, La Russie, La Turquie, etc.
Some exeptions : Le Japon, Le Maroc, Le Danemark, etc.
One "country" is plural masculine : Les Etats-Unis. But it is not really a name.
Uriel   Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:06 pm GMT
Then what is it? And why is it a "country" in quotation marks?
greg   Wed Aug 16, 2006 1:33 pm GMT
Les États-Unis d'Amérique, les Pays-Bas, les Philippines, les Bahamas, les Comores, les États-Unis mexicains.
fab   Wed Aug 16, 2006 3:39 pm GMT
Tu as raison Greg, il y a quelques exemple de pays "pluriels", pas seulement les USA.
Guest   Fri Aug 18, 2006 10:27 pm GMT
Many countries also have characters representing them - e.g. the American Uncle Sam, or Britannia for Britain. If the character, such as the latter, were female then you could get away with referring to that country - in the context of that character - as a "she".
Uriel   Sat Aug 19, 2006 1:04 pm GMT
America is still always "she", despite Uncle Sam. It's NEVER a "he". And the UK is often represented by John Bull or a bulldog. Yet in Shakespeare's famous passage:

This royal throne of kings, this scepter'd isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise;
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war;
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall,
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands;
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England,
This nurse, this teeming womb of royal kings,
Fear'd by their breed and famous by their birth,
Renowned for their deeds as far from home,
For Christian service and true chivalry,
As is the sepulchre in stubborn Jewry,
Of the world's ransom, blessed Mary's Son;
This land of such dear souls, this dear dear land,
Dear for her reputation through the world,
Is now leased out, I die pronouncing it,
Like to a tenement or pelting farm:
England, bound in with the triumphant sea
Whose rocky shore beats back the envious siege
Of watery Neptune, is now bound in with shame,
With inky blots and rotten parchment bonds:
That England, that was wont to conquer others,
Hath made a shameful conquest of itself.

he refers to England variously in feminine terms (her reputation, teeming womb of royal kings) and as the neuter "it", "itself". So it's not just based on the gender of the "characters representing them" -- it's an old tendency in English to personify a country as the "mother" of its people.
nailbunny   Sun Aug 20, 2006 5:47 am GMT
It's common in English to refer to objects for which one has affection as a 'she'. The owner of a restored automobile would refer to it as a female (she's a beauty!), and forces of nature (including Mother Nature herself!) get the same treatment; in the US, we used to give all hurricanes female names. Ships are always referred to as a female -- a practice that goes back at least several centuries. This feminine personification shows a degree of respect towards the object or force. 'If my ship sinks, I go with her!' seems more effective than 'If my ship sinks, I go with it!' It seems only natural that one's nation deserves this promotion. I wonder if this is common in other English-speaking nations.