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Once I asked an Austrian female colleague: Kannst du mir bitte meine Tasche geben?, pointing to my bag which was laying right next to my colleague. She then replied saying that Tasche is rather used to refer to your bag if you are a female, but not when you are a male.

Is this true in the given example? Are there any exceptions? Might this be the case only for certain German dialects?

  • The reason why one might think that Tasche is used for one used by females rather than males is simply that females are more used to carrying Taschen than men. – Christian Geiselmann Jul 4 '19 at 9:28
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    I would ask your colleague which word "should" be used referring to a man's bag. – Eller Jul 4 '19 at 12:06
  • @Eller My former colleague was suggesting that I should use the specific type of bag I'm referring to, that would be a backpack in this situation, so Rucksack. – Chris Dev Jul 4 '19 at 16:20
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It has little to do with the gender of the owner, but bags used by men often have different shapes and therefore different names (like a backpack = Rucksack). But if you see the bag and would usually call it "Tasche", than it irrelevant whose bag it is.
The most frequent use, the one that comes to the mind at first, would be a woman's handbag (Handtasche), an item hardly ever used by men (even though a "Herrentasche" does exist, it has a different shape than a woman's handbag - longer in vertical than in horizontal direction - but serves a similar purpose and would short be called "Tasche", too).
You would also call a larger shopping bag (Einkaufstasche) or travel bag (Reisetasche) this way.

And not to forget that "Tasche" also means "pocket".

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    In office-related context Aktentasche is also likely. – guidot Jul 4 '19 at 14:52
  • Interestingly I hardly ever heard an Aktentasche (briefcase) being just called Tasche but you are right in that an Aktentasche is another variety of Tasche – Volker Landgraf Jul 4 '19 at 15:10
  • That's why I assume, it could be the mismatch causing the original question. – guidot Jul 4 '19 at 15:14
  • Re-reading the question and realizing the OP specifically mentioned an Austrian colleague, I'm curios whether Hubert Schölnast will post a dissentient answer from a particularly Austrian point of view. – Volker Landgraf Jul 4 '19 at 15:23
  • Thank you for the answer! This confirms my intuition that Tasche, just like the English bag, can be used regardless of the owner's gender. My bag in the given situation was actually a backpack, and my colleague was hinting that I should have said Rucksack, as Tasche would refer to a woman's bag. Nonetheless, I would also be curios to see if this doesn't have anything to do with a local German dialect. – Chris Dev Jul 4 '19 at 16:03
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Which noun is used to refer to a thing depends mainly on the thing being referred to and certainly not the speaker's or owner's gender.

Tasche is very wide in its meaning; it can be 1) trouser pocket, 2) shopping bag, and 3) basically anything used to carry something. Because of 3), even a Rucksack can be called a Tasche.

There's lots of compound nouns with -tasche which designate specific types of products:

And, a bit different:

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  • The question is about the owner's gender, not about the speaker's. – Eller Jul 4 '19 at 11:53
  • The owner is the speaker. – David Vogt Jul 4 '19 at 11:59
  • The fact that in this very case the owner and the speaker is the same person is irrelevant. The question is clearly about the owner's gender. – Eller Jul 4 '19 at 12:04
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    The idea expressed by OP's colleague is so alien to me that I can't decide. Either way, the answer has been amended. Note that OP wrote used to refer if you are a female which points to my original interpretation (not the owner of the bag matters, but the one referring to it). – David Vogt Jul 4 '19 at 12:08
  • "is rather used to refer to your bag if you are a female" – Eller Jul 4 '19 at 13:03

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