Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Chauvinism in Language

Last night I was chatting with my mom when I told her that one of my former lecturers was got married recently.

 "Kwani how young is she?" my mom asked, as she continued to peel bananas with a deftness that I will never master.

"He's a man," I replied, wondering why she had instinctively assumed that I was talking about a girl.

"Then you said it wrongly. Men don't get married. They marry," she went on, all grammar-Nazi.

This conversation, like almost all conversations at my house was going on in Kikuyu. I have to brag that my Kikuyu is really good. Much better than my Swahili. However, I have never understood why when referring to marriage, in Kikuyu the man is always the subject while the woman is the object. Isn't this great institution supposed to be a partnership? Why then is it always the man doing the marrying while the woman is said to be getting married as if she is making no active choice in the matter? Pet peeve right there.

I understand that payment of dowry plays a big role in making marriage seem like a transaction... and in a lot of ways it is. However, marriage is a merger, not an acquisition. So despite my mom's protest I will continue to refer to 'dahikania' (when I marry) as opposed to 'dahikio' (when someone marries me). Being in love takes too much control out of my hands, you don't have to go on and make me feel like a prized acquisition.

Here's to my chauvinistic language. I love it all the same. Frankly, people who fear that when their kids learn their mother tongue, it will interfere with their English: have a little more faith in your kids' intelligence.  
Now that's a little more like it.
Source: Image Source.


  1. Welcome to a man's world.
    *avid stalker*

  2. Marriage is a merger not an acquisition...well said