44 votes

Since when did Indo-European languages start associating noun genders with male/female sexes?

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 ...
  • 54.2k
22 votes

Since when did Indo-European languages start associating noun genders with male/female sexes?

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 "...
  • 16.8k
14 votes

Since when did Indo-European languages start associating noun genders with male/female sexes?

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 ...
  • 70.4k
12 votes

Who was the first to call noun classes "genders"?

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 ...
  • 70.4k
10 votes
Accepted

What is the function of a gender distinction in nouns?

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 ...
  • 5,080
8 votes

Do any languages, or is it linguistically possible, to compound multiple noun classes on a single noun at the same time?

For a Bantu example, in (some types of) Kinshasa Lingála the noun class system has collapsed into a three-way distinction between "singular" (1), "plural" (2), and "inanimate&...
  • 54.2k
6 votes

Do any Indo European languages reflect noun class types other than gender?

Welsh shows some signs of a semantic classifying system in its noun plurals. There are a great many plural affixes in Welsh, partly reflecting the old stem-endings of nouns (which have often ...
  • 1,347
6 votes

Who was the first to call noun classes "genders"?

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition, states the following. [Middle English gendre, from Old French, kind, gender, from Latin genus, gener-. See genə in Appendix I....
  • 309
5 votes

Which (australian aboriginal?) language classifies nouns in "upright" things and "lying" things?

The language you're thinking of could be Enga. It's got all these existential verbs, depending on the referent! kata- occurs with subject NPs whose typical referents are judged to be tall, large, ...
  • 4,348
3 votes

Do any languages, or is it linguistically possible, to compound multiple noun classes on a single noun at the same time?

Note after posting this answer: It appears I did not understand what the original poster was asking for. As a comparative (cross-linguistic) category, "noun class" is most often defined in ...
  • 16.8k
2 votes

Do any languages, or is it linguistically possible, to compound multiple noun classes on a single noun at the same time?

Can you say a language still has a noun class system if a noun can take multiple class indicators at the same time? Like something that is long and flat getting the class indicators for both the long-...
2 votes

Which (australian aboriginal?) language classifies nouns in "upright" things and "lying" things?

You could be thinking of the way many Australian languages use positional verbs for locative and existential predication, ie where English would use 'to be'. For example (from Pintupi, Pama-Nyungan) ...
2 votes

Which (australian aboriginal?) language classifies nouns in "upright" things and "lying" things?

The language you're thinking of could be Yuchi. It has a complex gender system, involving animacy, biological sex, and uprightedness of inanimate objects. (But it does not coalesce biological sex ...
  • 4,348
2 votes

Who was the first to call noun classes "genders"?

Wycliffe was definitely prominent in introducing the use into everyday language But here may men betere sey in Latein pe sotilte of pis matere, for articlis wi], case, gendre, and noumbre helpen here ...
2 votes

Which languages have three noun classes corresponding to men, women and a third gender?

The Slavic languages were mentioned above, as they often are in the context of a three-way gender system, but the case is actually a little more complicated. I will limit myself to Polish. The ...
  • 1,842
2 votes

Do any Indo European languages reflect noun class types other than gender?

Pontic Greek, historically spoken in Northern Turkey, has acquired an animacy distinction on top of its inherited gender system; see e.g. http://westminsterresearch.wmin.ac.uk/16114/ : Human nouns ...
1 vote

Is there a term for "lexeme-describing grammatical feature"?

Yes, gender is generally a noun class. If you go outside common European languages, you will find that in languages of the world, there is a whole range of non-gender-based noun categories. Even in IE ...
  • 2,283

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