LEDs score in proficiency, not political points

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By John Bartlit

Words take on a cultural aura. In Spanish, all nouns have a gender. Everything is either masculine or feminine, but neither rhyme nor reason can tell which.

Would you guess the Spanish word for “necktie” is male or female? Even though neckties are in the men’s wear department, the word for necktie is “la corbata,” clearly feminine. You will do no better at guessing the gender of Spanish words for dress, book or window (masculine, masculine, feminine).

The custom that every noun has a gender grew long ago in other lands. The U.S. today is working on a novel twist. We think every noun has a political flavor.

Objects get tagged as liberal or conservative. People, things and concepts are assigned to be one or the other, but not in-between. For instance, the noun “government” is liberal, with all the irrelevance of linking “necktie” and feminine. The word “commerce” is conservative, with equal illogic.

“Soldier” is conservative. “Green” is liberal. “Hybrid” is liberal. “Snowfall” is conservative. “Hurricane” is liberal, and so on.

How do such things happen? For another angle on word connotations, let’s look at the little technical marvels called LEDs.

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