What Gender is the Spanish Word “Computer”

On occasion, we get emails from our readers that make us chuckle, and this one did just that. Thank you Sarah Walker for making our job just a little more fun! Readers, keep the letters coming.

A Spanish teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

“House,” for instance, is feminine: “la casa.”
“Pencil,” however, is masculine: “el lapiz.”

A student asked, “What gender is ‘computer’?”

Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether “computer” should be a masculine or a feminine noun.

Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men’s group decided that “computer” should definitely be of the feminine gender (la computadora), because:

  1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;
  2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
  3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and
  4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.

(This gets better!)

The women’s group, however, concluded that “computer” should be masculine (el computador), because:

  1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
  2. They have a lot of data, but still can’t think for themselves;
  3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and
  4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotton a better model.

The women won!

This letter was submitted by one of our readers. If you want to join in the fun and share your stories and photos of Jaltemba Bay, Mexico, please email them to Allyson@JaltembaBayLife.com

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2 Reviews on “What Gender is the Spanish Word “Computer””

  1. :

    In Spain, the translation for "the computer" is "el ordenador" but for calculator is "la calculadora". Go figure. In Romance languages, "gender" has nothing to do with the man/woman issue; it is purely a grammatical feature and could easily be called A vs B. In French, the word for the most masculine of body parts is "feminine" and for the most feminine of body parts in "masculine". Go figure.

  2. :

    Love that story, I will keep it in mind and tell it to all my friends.

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