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What are gendered words for?

  Tags: Gender | Grammar
 Language Learning Forum : Philological Room Post Reply
21 messages over 3 pages: 1 2
Stolan
Senior Member
United States
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Speaks: English*
Studies: Thai, Lowland Scots
Studies: Arabic (classical), Cantonese

 
 Message 17 of 21
01 August 2014 at 5:50am | IP Logged 
I've come back to add to what I wrote. Sometimes after gender lines blur, they reorganize after enough shuffling via
analogy and more, this is how African noun classes, which are far more predictable based on semantics, were born
from some sort of shuffling and further splits. Gender in German for example is grammatical yet semantics exist in
slight amounts, I don't know whether they are remnants of some time when gender may have been more semantic
or recent innovations into organizing gender. Possibly both, breakdown then reorganization, does anyone have an
answer?
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Medulin
Tetraglot
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Croatia
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 Message 18 of 21
01 August 2014 at 11:15pm | IP Logged 
Gender is a weird thing, for example, in Norwegian
bokmål, "the island" or "the hut" are feminine
("øya" and "hytta" respectively), but "the
woman" is masculine ("kvinnen").

Edited by Medulin on 01 August 2014 at 11:19pm

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robarb
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languagenpluson
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 Message 19 of 21
02 August 2014 at 4:19am | IP Logged 
Other than disambiguating the referent of a pronoun, I can think of one more incidental function of gender: It can
be used to distinguish what would otherwise be homonyms.

Ex: Portuguese: O grama foi inventado pelos franceses "The gram was invented by the French" versus
A grama foi inventada pelos franceses "Lawns were invented by the French."

In principle, you could cram twice as many words into the same phonetic space without increasing ambiguity, at
least in sentence structures with gender agreement.

Edited by robarb on 02 August 2014 at 4:22am

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Medulin
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 Message 20 of 21
04 August 2014 at 11:00pm | IP Logged 
Colloquial Brazilian Portuguese: ''Moça, me vê duzentas gramas desse queijo, por favor.''
(200 g [f.] of this cheese, please)
No one would interpret it as [200 lawns of this cheese, please]

Edited by Medulin on 04 August 2014 at 11:01pm

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robarb
Nonaglot
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languagenpluson
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Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
Studies: Mandarin, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Greek, Latin, Nepali, Modern Hebrew

 
 Message 21 of 21
12 August 2014 at 9:27pm | IP Logged 
That's true, in BP grama 'gram' can actually be either gender depending on the speaker. Books say masculine but it's
commonly spoken either way. On the other hand, grama 'lawn' is always feminine. And in most cases the context is
enough to be clear which meaning is meant. In principle it could work but in this case, the disambiguating function
is quite negligible at best ;)


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