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46

This strategy to deal with person groups of mixed gender or with single persons of unknown or undetermined gender is named generic masculine. It is quite frequent among languages with grammatical gender.


43

Short answer: the association between the grammatical genders and sociological genders happened very early in Indo-European, but it was an association rather than an equivalence and had many exceptions. I read that greek/latin used words that translate to "kind" to describe the noun classes (as we use "gender" today), so maybe the ...


32

The World Atlas of Language Structures has a feature about gender distinctions in personal pronouns. According to it, there are at least 254 languages without gender distinctions and even 2 with gender distinctions in 1st and 2nd, but not 3rd person pronouns (Iraqw and Burunge).


29

In Thai, 1st person singular pronouns differ by gender: Masc.: ผม [pʰǒm] Fem.: ดิฉัน [dìʔt͡ɕʰán]


27

The origin of grammatical gender is not necessarily well understood, but presumably it originated like any other inflectional feature and then became associated with gender when it was noticed that some prominent things of one natural gender fell into one paradigm and things of another into another, upon which those paradigms might have been generalised to ...


25

The first thing I thought of was names derived in antiquity from the names of ancient Greek goddesses. For example, the French male name Hercule is ultimately from the name of the Greek goddess Hera (Ἥρα) (it's not just a masculinized form of the name, though, obviously). The name Artemio seems to be used in Italian and Spanish; I believe it comes from the ...


24

There are many such languages. Examples include Turkic languages (as kiyoshigaang's answer mentions), Uralic languages (such as Finnish, Hungarian, Estonian), spoken Mandarin and Cantonese, and doubtless many others. Languages which lack grammatical gender generally will usually lack gendered third-person pronouns specifically (although there are exceptions ...


24

Coming at this from a different direction, Japanese personal pronouns (*) are an open class, with many variations in meaning and connotation. So while there's no official "first-person masculine pronoun", 俺 (ore) is primarily used by men, and あたし (atashi) primarily by women. Others, like 私 (watashi), don't have strong gender associations. All of ...


23

Proto-Afro-Asiatic likely marked gender on second-person pronouns, and many of its descendants do the same. For example, second-person singular masculine is אַתָּה (ʔattāh) in Hebrew, أَنْتَ‎ (ʔanta) in Arabic, atta in Akkadian, ntk in Egyptian; feminine is Hebrew אַתְּ (ʔattə), Arabic أَنْتِ (ʔanti), Akkadian atti, Egyptian ntṯ. I don't know of any Afro-...


21

The association was certainly firmly in place already during the time that ancient Greek and Latin grammarians were writing about grammatical gender, so the fact that genus can be translated as "kind" is probably not relevant in the way that you suggest. Latin grammarians tended to lay significance on the fact that genus shares a root with the verb ...


17

There is no simple answer. In languages with gender - less than half* - the gender of specific words often varies not just by time but by dialect. Likewise it varies across languages in a language family, for example the Romance languages. (And specifically for cognates, not just for loanwords and neologisms.) Using the modern Romance languages and Latin ...


13

In Spanish that happends for plural: nosotros (1st person plural masculine) nosotras (1st person plural femenine) In Japanese there are several forms for the first form depending on gender or even age! watashi (I, for boys although it can be used by girls too) atashi (I, for feminine) The funny thing is that they are written the same: 私. For plural, the same ...


13

Some time after the middle of the 4th millenium BC. As discussed in this article by Luraghi, IE did not develop sex-based gender distinctions until the Anatolian branch split off, which is typically said to be in the mid 4000's BC. §5.2-3 of the article on the development of the differentiation of the feminine in later PIE. This is well before classical ...


12

Vietnamese names, like Chinese, have no specific name set. So the choice depends on the parents or the person who gives the name. They can choose any syllable they like to combine into the name. But of course there's a set of words that are much more commonly appear in names because they are "more beautiful" words. However Vietnamese name have no limit in ...


12

In Italian there are a number of historically female names which are occasionally used as male names, e.g. Celeste, Amabile, Fiore, Diamante In many Romance languages the female name Maria (or some variant thereof) has historically been used in male names, either standalone or as part of a compound name, though this practice has generally declined with ...


11

The masculine gender/noun class in many languages will be the unmarked option, with other genders/classes being marked. It is often (though not always) possible to use a less marked gender/class. Sometimes a noun might have a marked gender, but other words with agreement affixes might use a less marked gender. One example is Biblical Greek, in which certain ...


10

The Beti-Fang subgroup of languages of Cameroon (and I suspect other related Bantu languages) have this property. Example languages are Ewondo, Fang, Ntumu, Bulu. Like most Bantu languages, there is a class system involved in agreement and singular / plural formation. Adjectives, which are pre-nominal, have a lexical class, but demonstratives and numerals, ...


10

It depends on whether you mean strictly English (since gender is an English word) or do you include the historical antecedents in other languages. The origin of the concept and term is Aristotle in Rhetoric (though Aristotle attributes the idea to Protagoras), and the Greek term is genos, which simply means "kind". It worked its way into French as genre, ...


10

Although adverb agreement in gender/noun class is far from ubiquitous, there seem to be (apparent) examples of this kind of agreement in a fair number of languages. I am most familiar with examples of gender-agreeing adverbs from Indo-European, since that is a large and well-studied family containing many languages with gender systems. But there do seem to ...


10

The three genders are found in all the oldest Indo-European languages we know (Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, Gothic, Old Irish, Old Church Slavonic, Old Norse) with the exception of Hittite. Hittite had two genders; but the two were neuter and common, rather than masculine and feminine. Some scholars believe that Hittite represents an earlier stage, and Indo-...


8

Yes, there are such languages. Here's an excerpt from the annotation to Heidi Newell's „A Consideration Of Feminine Default Gender“ (2005): Languages with gender assignment must also deal with ambiguous and unknown gender. The gender used for an unknown or ambiguous gender is the default gender. In some languages all nouns must be assigned a gender. ...


8

Properties of individual languages don't necessarily solve problems. Spanish children learn gender of nouns because it would be wrong to say "el aguo", and they learn what their parents say, who in turn learned what their parents said, an so on back to Latin and before. "Gender" is just one version of noun class systems. It's not clear whether you mean "...


8

I've read that even in Latin, we see some variability in the declension of words as neuter or masculine. Sometimes the use of the masculine where neuter would be expected is attributed to "personification". So the fall of the neuter seems to have been a long and at least somewhat gradual process. I will update this post if I find more detailed ...


7

Turkish doesn't have gender in third person pronouns. For example, if one says "Onu, okulda gördüm.", it can interpreted either "I saw her at school" or " I saw him at school".


7

Georgian lacks gender specific third person pronouns: ის (is) covers "he", "she", "it"; and also "this". იგი (igi) covers "he" and "she". Mongolian is another language that doesn't specify gender in third person pronouns: тэр (ter) is a deictic / demonstrative meaning "that", and is covers "he", "she", and "it".


7

It's all simple: you cannot put an indefinite article before every noun, but definite articles have no limitations, every noun can have a definite article. The point is, in most European languages with articles (including English) the indefinite articles developed from the word "one" and in most of those languages it is still identical to the word "one". ...


7

To some extent, this is just a question of terminology. In some languages, it is conventional to speak of "genders"; in others, "noun classes"; in some languages, the plural is considered to be one of the genders/noun classes, while in others, it isn't. In general, though, my impression is that linguists tend not to consider plural to be a distinct ...


7

In German, diminutives are almost always neuter, even when they refer to humans, like Mädchen "girl". In Ancient Greek, similarly, παιδίον "child". German also has some non-diminutive neuter words for humans, like Weib "woman". In Latin, words for humans tend to be either common (they take on the grammatical gender of their referent) or epicene (they have a ...


6

North Indian Languages, eg. Hindi/Urdu (Indo-European). Even though there are gendered nouns, there are no gendered pronouns. Even first (मैं) and second (तुम-informal/आप-formal) person pronouns are gender-neutral. All nouns are gendered, though. For example, a table (मेज़) is feminine while a pen (कलम) is masculine. वह आदमी है। (He’s a man.) वह औरत है। (...


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