Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 10:22:46 -0500


Subject: Re: why are ships referred to as she (fwd)

Seems to me there's something more to this than being "wedded to the sea." My

sense is that favorite male possessions of many kinds are referred to as "she,"

including favorite automobiles (not just hot rods or sports cars), trucks,

rifles, shotguns, boats, motorcycles, tractors, fly rods, big game trolling

reels, etc., especially when human qualities are attributed to them

(faithfulness, power, dependability, contrariness, etc.). It might be

interesting to see just how extensive the range really is. The list I've given

here is well attested in my own experience, but no doubt there are other

objects that are associated with female pronouns and even given female names

(until recently, that included tropical storms and hurricanes, but now there is

gender balance in naming storms, at least in the National Weather Service). In

contrast, I suspect that very few possessions are referred to with 'he' (it's

always 'Old Betsy,' never 'Old Bob' or 'Old Fred').