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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 ...


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 ...


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 ...


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 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-...


10

Assigning nouns to a certain noun class, with other words taking various forms by agreeing with that noun class (e.g. adjectives, determiners, or verbs marking the noun's gender) allows you to spread some of the information about what that noun is around the sentence, increasing redundancy. Contrary to many naïve assumptions, this is actually a good thing. ...


3

It is very common that people cannot imagine languages which have extra ways of talking about the universe, or don't require you to specify some fact, compared to how it is in their mother tongue. Some languages require you to specify whether the action took place just moments ago or did it happen yesterday; some languages don't have any means of inflecting ...


1

As described by you, Bengali has a meagre residue of the Indo-Aryan gender system. I do not see any problem with referring to “residual gender”. This, of course, is from a diachronic, not synchronic, perspective.


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