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8:24am on Wednesday, 29th June, 2005:
Languages such as French and German are gendered, in that nouns are determined to be masculine or feminine (or neuter). English is partially gendered, in that nouns referring to things that actually have a gender are gendered (eg. boy, tigress, widower), but nouns that refer to things that don't have a gender are neutral (eg. flag, hyacinth, jacket). However, there is one small class of English nouns that refer to things that don't have a gender but are nevertheless gendered: boats and ships. Any water-borne vessel that has a name is a "she". This use of gender assignment doesn't occur for any other class of objects in English except for those that actually have a gender.
So if they're female, why do we call cargo ships "merchantmen"?
Ah, English, you gotta love it.
The French for the ship is le navire.
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