Danielle Sucher put together a browser extension called Jailbreak the Patriarchy that switches gendered words (such as pronouns) on web sites you visit.

It’s more thought experiment than anything, but I became fascinated with one esoteric issue:

There is a known bug with the English language itself that I’m dealing with imperfectly at the moment. See, sometimes “her” should translate to “him”, and sometimes it should translate to “his”.

“Her” functions as both an objective pronoun (give the book to her) and a possessive pronoun (her cat is orange).

Sucher attempts to account for this by looking at the words surrounding “her.” A nearby preposition is a good indication that we’re using the objective form. Here’s her list of matching words:

aboard, about, above, across, after, against, along, amid, among, around, as, at, before, behind, below, beneath, beside, besides, between, beyond, but, by, concerning, considering, despite, down, during, except, excepting, excluding, following, for, from, in, inside, into, like, minus, of, off, often, on, onto, opposite, outside, over, past, per, plus, regarding, since, than, through, to, toward, towards, under, underneath, unlike, until, up, upon, versus, via, with, within, without, not, and, feel

Numbers, both digits and written out, also signal an objective pronoun.

It’s the kind of thing a native speaker never notices, but ultimately becomes important when teaching the language — particularly when the learner is an algorithm, like Sucher’s extension or Apple’s Siri.

(link via Faruk Ateş)