Gender as a synesthetic concurrent

(Perceiving concepts as masculine or feminine)

This could be considered a subtype of either ordinal linguistic personification or duality synesthesia

Some synesthetes automatically perceive different concepts has having gender, feeling that they are male or female by nature, even though they are not living beings. This can be the case for learnt series or sequences like letters, numbers, months, days, colours or geometric shapes.

In gendered languages such as French or Spanish nouns are masculine or feminine, but the synesthetes’ genders do not necessarily correspond to these grammatical genders, so for example “el martes” (Tuesday) can be a female day although it is a masculine noun, o “la C” can be considered masculine despite the letters of the alphabet being linguistically feminine. There do not appear to be any studies on synesthetes’ tendency to assign the same or different genders to masculine or feminine concepts in a gendered language, or whether this phenomenon occurs to a lesser extent among native speakers of this type of language.

Here are some descriptions written by people with this type of synesthesia:

“Squares are females, circles are males...and what's interesting to me is I'm finding triangles to be female, but the number three is no doubt a male!”

(Source: This comment on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2019.)

4, 6, 7, and 9 are female, 1, 2, 5, 8, and 10 are male, and 3 is a hermaphrodite. Don't ask, lol.”

(Source: This comment on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2013.)

Oddly, all the vowels—except I—are female. They relate (have friendships with one another) to their neighboring letters, as well. The males include b, d, f, i, j, l, n, p, r, s, and t. To this day, I think of these letters and can never imagine them feminized. Thinking about it, it doesn’t have much to do with shape, being capitalized, or lower-cased. Although it’s curvy, s is male. H is female despite it’s all lines.”

(Source: This comment on the online debate platform Reddit/Synesthesia. 2018.)

This type of synesthesia is related to ordinal linguistic personification, where numbers or letters have not only gender but also personality, age, physical appearance and so on. Personifying the concepts in this more complete way appears to be much more common than assigning only gender.

Go to the page on ordinal linguistic personification

It is also related to duality synesthesia, in which concepts are automatically classified into two opposing categories, and stimulus-parity synesthesia, where the categorisation of odd or even is applied to letters, days, months, colours, other sequences and even all objects in general.

Go to the page on duality synesthesia

Goto the page on stimulus-parity synesthesia

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