I'm a native French speaker, and I noticed that for a lot of masculine objects, we use the suffix
-ette to designate a smaller version of it, which turns it into a feminine word. Here are a few examples:
Petit balai --> Balayette Petit camion --> Camionnette Petite fourche --> Fourchette etc.
-ette suffix (apparently) originates from the Latin suffix
Versions of it can be found in other Latin languages, such as the Spanish
-ita, or the Italian
-etta, which seem to be used accordingly with the gender of the word they are attached to. In French, we do have the masculine suffix
-et, but it is not used consistently with masculine words.
Interestingly, diminutive suffixes can also originate from Latin
inus (like the Portuguese
-inha, and the Italian
-ina), but in French it gave birth to the suffix
-in, which I believe is used for different purposes.
How come French doesn't consistently use "-et" for masculine words, and "-ette" for feminine words? Where in time did it become different from other Romance languages (if it really is)?