Do you find the use of 她 here unusual?

A famous city, in history known for its culture, uses its (her) former glory and today's ever-increasing prosperity to make clear to everyone.
it (she) is absolutely not, as some people misunderstand,
like an old woman who has lost her youth;
On the contrary,
a famous city, like a tree grown on the fertile land of ancient, profound culture,
certainly can produce many branches and abundant foliage, evergreen and everlasting.

The article also refers to 黄河 with 她:

黄河被称做母亲河, 因为是中华民族的摇篮。

Could be 3 typos, but I doubt it. In German, city is feminine, but river is masculine.


2 Answers 2


It is not unusual.

女人如水, Chinese have always related woman to water since the ancient time.

Both the city and river have the attributes of a mother - 包容, 保護, 生育, 蘊育, 犧牲. A city 包容, 保護 the people live in it, and a river often possess all of it.

The Chinese claims the ancient Chinese (漢人) had selected and lived mostly along the path of the Yellow River for its plentiful of water and food supplies necesary for living. The river liked a mother in the sense as it fed everybody (包容) non-discrimintly, gave part (water, fishes) of herself (犧牲) that allowed the people (considered as the children) who relied on her to live.

The people (漢人) who lived along the Yellow River started the Chinese calture (漢文化), expanded and spread to other locations through waterways tributary to the Yellow River (branching out from the mother tree) that ultimately reached and dominated the entire China. So it is understoodable that like a mother, the river has gave birth (生育), to the Chinese calture and provided nursery (蘊育,保護) necessary for her childrean (民族,文化) to grow.

Thus, citing Yellow River as "her", "mother" are common practices of the Chinese writers in non-formal writings such as poem, fiction, easy, children's book..etc.

However, when writing formal papers, such as history, geography, textbook...etc, "它" is the norm.

  • But 离卦 in IChing represents 中女(middle-age woman) and also represents fire, 坎卦 in IChing represents 中男(middle-age man) and also represents river.
    – Spin Lee
    Commented Jul 7, 2021 at 4:05

Only Bejing China refers to 黄河 with 她 and 母亲河. It does not come from traditonal Chinese culture, which considers Yellow River as something negative.

In IChing(易经), 离卦(101)represents fire and a middle woman(中女), while 坎卦(010) represents river and a middle man(中男). It shows clearly that river is masculine(阳性) in traditional Chinese culture.

The reason is that the fewer 爻 determines the gender of a 卦. In 坎卦(010),阳爻(1) is fewer than 阴爻(0), so the gender is male.

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