Note to the Responder: This curiosity behind this question arose because of my (relative) proficiency in the Hindi language, but the answers need not be necessarily limited to it. I am a complete noob with regards to linguistics, so please bear with any amateurish remarks I may make in my ignorance.
I am a native Hindi speaker, which like many other languages, assigns a gender to inanimate objects. I am aware that people who are monolingually educated in a tongue which does not have these characteristics struggle to learn gendered languages, like Hindi and French, and I can understand why they might feel so.
However, maybe because I'm a native Hindi speaker, I feel like I effortlessly know the gender of any inanimate object I can think of, even with the noun in question not necessarily being of the Hindi language. (Context: In the northern part of India where I'm from, a sort of merged tongue of Hindi and English is spoken, known colloquially as Hinglish). As an example, let's say I take a few nouns from the English language, which I selected off the top of my head:
I just intuitively know that Betelgeuse is male, a spaceship is female and the earphones are male in the Hindi tongue, while these nouns do not necessarily have an equivalent Hindi word. To some of my non-Hindi friends who are native in an agendered language, I am unable to explain why a spaceship seems female, because while it seems obvious to me (atleast linguistically), there seems to be no good reason for it being so, and no universal rules for assigning gender.
What linguistic or cognitive factors contribute to my ability to intuitively assign gender to inanimate objects?
I'm eager to learn from linguists and experts in language acquisition. While I've shared my experiences, I know there may be established theories and research on this topic. I welcome insights into the cognitive processes or cultural factors that influence gender assignment in languages like Hindi and French. If you know of relevant studies or resources, please share.