Re: Noun genders (was: Re: Is English a creole? (was: Indo-European Studies))

Cameron Laird (claird@Starbase.NeoSoft.COM)
31 Jul 1995 06:59:29 -0500

In article <>,
Christopher Monsour <> wrote:
>In article <>,
>Glynis Baguley <> wrote:
>>Me too. Something I'd be particularly interested to know is whether
>>the terms masculine and feminine (and neuter, etc) have been used for
>>as far back as anyone knows, or whether they were much later. The word
>>`gender', etymologically, has no connection with sex, simply meaning
>>`type' or `kind'. In the languages I have some knowledge of, there are
>>some words that seem to belong to the `wrong' gender, eg `la
>>sentinelle', `das Maedchen' (all diminutives in German are neuter),
>>those first-declension nouns in Latin like `poeta' and `agricola'. Is
>>this because the terms `masculine' and `feminine' have been used, if
>>not arbitrarily, then loosely as convenient but not particularly
>>accurate labels for categories that might just have well have been
>>labelled `Type 1', `Type 2', etc? Are we wrong to think that
Isn't this the way most linguists teach gender?
That is certainly the slant I learned.
>>grammatical gender is closely connected with biological sex or hazy
>>notions of male and female characteristics?
>Are you sure about `agricola' and `poeta'? I thought they were
>actually masculine, which would of course be the right gender, but
>with goofy inflections. Unfortunately, I haven't a Latin dictionary
*agricola* and *poeta* are, indeed, masculine nouns.
Follow-ups adjusted.


Cameron Laird +1 713 267 7966 +1 713 996 8546 FAX