Formy żeńskie (Feminine Forms)

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In Polish, grammatical gender—masculine or feminine, among others—is an attribute of such parts of speech as a noun, an adjective, and specific pro-forms as well as participles. The gender of a word may change in translation between languages: “life,” for instance, is masculine in Czech but feminine in Russian, while “air” is feminine in Italian but masculine in French. One particular rule governs the names of professions: these, in Polish, have both feminine and masculine variants, so that “female conductor” and “female theorist” exist alongside “male conductor” and “male theorist.” Generally speaking, there are no and there will never be any rational grounds for evading certain designations or forms on the basis of their gender alone. 

Also significant is the way Polish verbs inflect for the category of gender. In the past tense, one differentiates between masculine personal and non-masculine; consequently, the Polish equivalent of “were” used when speaking of the once-d i s c r i m i n a t e d -against female composers or instrumentalists is different from that applicable to the once-p r i v i l e g e d composing or instrument-playing malesIn the present tense, however, there is no room for such a distinction; accordingly, a single form of verbs like “to compose” or “to perform” pertains e q u a l l y to both female and male musicians. 

In the original version of this text, as far as grammatical gender is concerned, 54 masculine (or masculine personal) forms occur along only 43 feminine (or non-masculine) ones. Six female composers—composeresses—and five female performers—performeresses—are engaged in this project, and it is only the latter figures that restore the balance. 

Błażej Bauer