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What are gendered words for?

  Tags: Gender | Grammar
 Language Learning Forum : Philological Room Post Reply
21 messages over 3 pages: 13  Next >>
Medulin
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Croatia
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 Message 9 of 21
14 April 2014 at 8:36pm | IP Logged 
Cabaire wrote:
Well, one function is easier back reference:

Die Vase stieß gegen den Teller. Jetzt ist er kaputt.
The vase bumped against the plate. Now it is broken.

In the gendered language you know now, that it is the plate, not the vase that is broken.


You can use words like the former and the latter in English for the same effect :)
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Henkkles
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 Message 10 of 21
23 April 2014 at 10:58am | IP Logged 
eyðimörk wrote:
Henkkles wrote:
The Indo-European gender system stems from an animate-inanimate divide present in early Proto-Indo-European that changed into the three-way gender system we all know (hate/love) (likely due to grammaticalization of some conjugational paradigms, but I can't remember right now). Many IE-languages, like Icelandic, still mirror the old system's logic in them

And some languages treat animate and inanimate objects differently, within a two- or three-way gender system structure, or have two words for the same object. At least I've always assumed that this is a remnant of the PIE animate/inanimate divide.

Breton, for example, has a two-gender system, but plurals do not follow gender. Instead they follow the inanimate/animate divide (some notable exceptions exist). Some plural fun: both animate and inanimate plurals of "god" can be found in a dictionary, and also trees take the animate plural.

Unfortunately I know next to nothing about the Celtic languages so I couldn't tell. That sounds like an inherited trait more than a neologism, but I've heard the Celts can be quite wonky when it comes to language so don't quote me...
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Retinend
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 Message 11 of 21
23 April 2014 at 11:13am | IP Logged 
Medulin wrote:
Cabaire wrote:
Well, one function is easier back reference:

Die Vase stieß gegen den Teller. Jetzt ist er kaputt.
The vase bumped against the plate. Now it is broken.

In the gendered language you know now, that it is the plate, not the vase that is broken.


You can use words like the former and the latter in English for the same effect :)


Unfortunately it sounds rather affected and is rare in the spoken language. The more common English equivalent of these German
gendered pronouns is "which":

Über dem Tisch (...) hing das Bild, das er vor kurzem aus einer illustrierten Zeitschrift ausgeschnitten und
in einem hübschen, vergoldeten Rahmen untergebracht hatte


Over the table hung the picture, which he had recently cut out of an illustrated magazine and put in a attractive
golden frame.
1 person has voted this message useful



Stolan
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 Message 12 of 21
15 May 2014 at 4:23pm | IP Logged 
It is wrong to assume gender fulfills a purpose, but it may be renewed as such.
Let's take something I'm more familiar with, noun classes in Caucasian languages.
Some have lost noun classes such as Lezgi, some are transparent such as where Noun class 1 and 2 are for humans
and everything else is under class 3, the ones with the most complicated system are Ingush and Chechen with 6
classes, 4 of which are completely arbitrary. The ones in the middle are like Hinuq where 4 classes exist and
semantics are used, class 3 is the only class that insects fall under for example.
In Chechen, a few class 5 objects often tend to be round, a sign that it usn't to be as random.
(But it is really grueling now, something like German still has semantic hints such as dates being masculine, and
numbers being feminine. It is truly random in Ingush!)

Gender probably starts off as literal but the lines blur and reorganization takes place if it goes on long enough,
perhaps the gender becomes overtly marked (as in Russian or African languages), perhaps it merges (many), or it
disappears (Armenian did it first, not English). But who knows, maybe 10,000 years hence some new system will
emerge in English called "cups, lids, and liquids" where a dog is a lid. heh...

Edited by Stolan on 16 May 2014 at 3:43am

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Ganzpret
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Studies: Ancient Egyptian

 
 Message 13 of 21
18 June 2014 at 4:55am | IP Logged 
I study all languages and writing systems.

All languages have noun- and verb- classification systems.  English' seems to revolve around our idiomatic use of prepositions. Chinese has measure words and African and Amerind languages have like 25 categories of nouns. And if they're not morphologically active, they're probably present in the way words are formed.

All language is about the subconcious mind weilding this gigantic system of syntax and lexicon which resides within the confines of our skulls. When we study multiple languages (the more the better), we get some faint notion of something forever beyond our capabilities - the history of each word and what exactly it is that goes into why languages are the way they are.

I studied German for like 10 or more years before I found through Linguistics that the genders were based on the final vowels and some other phonological things. They didn't teach me anything like that in school, nor do most people get that. It's frustrating how useless and stupid language teachers are, but when I spent a few years teaching English in Asia with a BA in Linguistics, I got tons of hassle for being a fantastic teacher. Were you to learn the best knowledge and become a teacher, the students would be so blown away that they wouldn't realize it and nit-pick about something irrelevant and stupid. Linguists become academics because there's so few out there that it's a cold world for them.

What's more, I was told to memorize noun gender in German class, and was tested on it. But guess what ? I read at an advanced level now and have had many conversations in German, and it was a waste of time. Native speakers still understand if you get the gender wrong; it's just one of many things that native speakers aquire subconciously as part of theirs being the 'everyday' variety of language knowledge. And you might get it too, via "chunking", were you to stay there long enough.

I was also in China 6 months, teaching English and hanging out, and I suspect that memorization of tones is likewise useless. If you're there, you'll get the feel, and with Mandarin the words are so long that they'll figure you out if you speak in sentences. Mandarin is a work with a CD language for sure, though all living languages probably are, if you're not in a class.

While I'm at it, the related 'verb classification system' concept comes often to my mind in English spellings based on Latin verbs which maintain the thematic vowel of the original. So how can we spell correctly without knowing Latin? Ridiculous.
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shk00design
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 Message 14 of 21
18 June 2014 at 6:41am | IP Logged 
If you are talking about Chinese or Mandarin in particular there is no distinction between gender when it
comes to nouns like French or Spanish. You can say "le chien" for dog, "le chat" for cat or "la voiture" for
car which is feminine. In Chinese 狗, 猫 or 车 are inanimate objects and usually have no sex attach to it.

People in Mandarin generally have sex attached to it except "I" or "we" 我 or 我们. "You" can be
expressed as M or F 你 or 妳. Family relations tend to be more clearly defined than in European
languages such as an uncle or aunt from the father's side of the family 伯伯, 伯母 as opposed to the
mother's side 舅舅, 阿姨 and cousin from the father's side 堂哥 & 堂弟 (older & younger) as opposed to
cousin on the mother's side 表哥 & 表弟 (older & younger).

There are words in Chinese that are related to professions without gender but traditionally carry
stereotype being M or F such as a nurse or secretary 护士 or 秘书 being women. Truck driver or
firefighter 火车司机 or 救火员 for instance strongly favours men over women because the work requires a
person to be physically strong. The same goes with European languages. 1 term used more frequently
as a substitute for a "secretary" is "administrative assistant". Many years ago, a secretary was somebody
who used to be proficient typing documents with a typewriter. Nowadays everybody has some computer
skills and "typing" became "data entry" so the connotation of a "typist" being a woman is replaced by a
"data entry clerk" which is more gender neutral.
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leosmith
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 Message 15 of 21
03 July 2014 at 7:13am | IP Logged 
Ganzpret wrote:
I study all languages and writing systems.

I noticed you put this on the top of all your posts. I guess nobody's falling for it. I remember the good old days
when a dozen people would be all over it. But those days are gone, son. Time to move on.


shk00design wrote:
"You" can be expressed as M or F 你 or 妳.

Don't forget ta1 (he, she or it). For example:
他 = ta1 = he
她 = ta1 = she
它 = ta1 = it, if you are talking about a little thing sitting under a roof
牠 = ta1 = it, if you are talking about a cow, which we all need to do sometimes
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montmorency
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 Message 16 of 21
05 July 2014 at 12:29pm | IP Logged 
Retinend wrote:
Medulin wrote:
Cabaire wrote:
Well, one function is easier back
reference:

Die Vase stieß gegen den Teller. Jetzt ist er kaputt.
The vase bumped against the plate. Now it is broken.

In the gendered language you know now, that it is the plate, not the vase that is
broken.


You can use words like the former and the latter in English for the same effect :)


Unfortunately it sounds rather affected and is rare in the spoken language. The more
common English equivalent of these German
gendered pronouns is "which":

Über dem Tisch (...) hing das Bild, das er vor kurzem aus einer
illustrierten Zeitschrift ausgeschnitten und
in einem hübschen, vergoldeten Rahmen untergebracht hatte


Over the table hung the picture, which he had recently cut out of an
illustrated magazine and put in a attractive
golden frame.


Or in the oriignal example: "The vase bumped against the plate, which is now broken".
Except in speech, you would probably say something like "The vase bumped against the
plate and broke it".


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