sex-specific names

Are there any societies in which most or all names are not sex-specific?

Some (but not all) Inuit names can be used as a first name or last name for either sex.

**Kilabuk[\b] is most commonly a last name but I have met people (both men and women) with it as a first name. Ditto **Pootoogook[\b].

There are many other examples but I am too tired to think of them right now.

French has a number names which although are clearly sex specific when written sound the same.

Emanuel and Emmanuelle

Michel and Michelle

Pascal and Pascale etc

(You could says the same of the English Frances and Francis.)

In Spanish composite names you find male and female elements but the order tells you if the person is male of female. Thus Maria-José is a woman but José-Maria is a man.

I would venture that in North America there is a move towards not sex specific naming - there have been a couple of threads on this - with names like Shannon, Kelly, Charlie.

Well, I’m a female Lesley who’s the daughter of a male Leslie.

I do not have first hand knowledge but I was always under the impression that most modern hebrew israeli names are unisex.

Maori names, with very few exceptions are not exclusive to either gender. (If I have been informed correctly.)
The exceptions are names like “Wahine” which literally means “woman”.

As for a language where all names indicate their gender, well, I dunno.

You can’t tell the difference between the pronunciation of “-el” and “-elle”? I admit it’s rather subtle and disappears in some dialects, but it’s there. Similarly, with “-cis” and “-ces” in English.

Nope, my apologies Mathochist but then I can’t hear the difference between dessous and dessus either, nor did I ever get the hang of wydychac and wdychac in Polish (that last ‘c’ should have an accent over it BTW).

In French spoken at normal speed with the words running together I hear very little difference between Michel and Michelle, to my mind it’s more ‘stress’ than ‘sound’ if you see what I mean. Friends I know the husband is Michel, the mother-in-law Michelle - when both are together or for clarification the final ‘le’ of the female form is really stressed but most of the time even the native speakers can get confused if the context isn’t clear. Maybe it’s just my mates’ accents (Paris, Alsace & Savoy) I bet I’d have no trouble hearing the difference if they were from the South West :wink:

Please don’t shout at me ClairObscur

Well, yes it’s partly the stress, but I don’t see why stress isn’t sound.

It’s really a matter of enunciation, I suppose. I had a French teacher who was a fanatic about enunciation – especially compared to most American enunciation – and who I was the only one to take seriously. Of course, I was the only one to come out of high school not saying “bahn-jer” either, so…

Let’s say I want to say “Michel est allé au bar.” we naturally run together the sounds ‘el’ and ‘est’ and it would be dificult to decide if there was another ‘sound’ hidden in there without ‘stressing’ it “MichelLE est allée au bar.”. I don’t have a problem when the name is the last word of the phrase but just as the careful “Je ne sais pas” you were taught at school transmogrofies into “J’ai pa” in the rush of modern life so syllables get swallowed all over the shop.
Seriously ClairObscur, should you stumble across this thread don’t shout at me, this is just my experience ok?

Panjabi names (Ravinder, Gurinder, etc.) are usually unisex.

Panjabi Sikhs traditionally add “Singh” (“lion”) for a man and “Kaur” (“lioness”) for a woman.

Of course, these days, Panjabi children tend to be named like puppies – Twinkle, Dimple, Pinky, Rinkle, etc.

Nope. While more of them are unisex than traditional Hebrew names, the fairly large majority are still sex-specific.