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42

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 ...


35

The only such language I know about is Pirahã, the indigenous language of the isolated Pirahã people of Amazonas, Brazil. It is minimalistic in many ways, having the least number of phonemes (only 11), lacking words for numbers and for colors. Daniel Everett, the greatest specialist on Pirahã who spent years living with the tribe, states Pirahã has the same ...


26

"The loss and weakening of unstressed syllables at the ends of words..... had disastrous effects on the inflectional system, since many endings now became identical." — (Barber, 1993: 157) There is no simple answer to the question, why exactly English has lost the majority of its inflections. Here's just one idea: The articulatory stress began to fell on ...


19

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 ...


16

It is not possible for there to be a human language that does not have a way of referring to entities, or to predicate states and actions of an entity. If that is what you mean by "noun" and "verb", then all languages have nouns and verbs. However, noun, verb, adverb, adjective are typically treated by linguists as "word classes", defined in terms of how ...


12

Unfortunately we have no hard evidence one way or another, because Homer uses both, and that's the oldest Greek we have. (Mycenaean inscriptions sometimes help us go farther back, but they're no help here.) However, we can make a very good guess. There's a well-attested Ancient Greek verb lanthánō, "to escape notice"; the extra n comes from a present-tense ...


12

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

Ananas is not from Hebrew. It is from a South American language, Old Tupi, from the same area where the fruit is native – the Amazon rainforest, not the Middle East. Tupi natives called the fruit naná, and made a fermented drink from it, naná’y. The European invaders took the fruit to the rest of the world and borrowed the word as ananas, as described by ...


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, ...


9

While there are lot of Adj/N pairs in English, your example seems to be of the specific type 'Nominal Adjectives' (e.g. 'the meek', 'the poor'). I wouldn't say they're nouns in their own right; you can't clearly swap them into other sentences ('A headstrong doesn't give up' or 'I'm looking for a headstrong'.) Even when it is true that there are identical N/...


8

Well, maybe because Standard German is an artificial construct based on the Middle High German language of the Bible and many Germans learn it as sort of a second language (after their native dialect). So it's deemed to be pretty conservative. English speakers, on the other hand, seem to adopt language changes into their literary language faster than ...


8

One has to be careful how the words Noun and Verb are understood, if one wants a good answer. Semanticists talk about Entities and Events, and leave Noun and Verb as formal categories, dependent on criteria of usage (can it be a subject? can it take a definite article?) instead of meaning. Frawley (Linguistic Semantics, 1992 Ch.3 "Entities", p....


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

Melissa and user6726 addressed the word Ananas quite nicely. But to respond to this part of your question: Since Hebrew should be older than German as it was spoken Adam and Eve and there should be pineapples in the Garden of Eden… Regardless of beliefs about Edenic/Adamic/etc (I don't know enough about scripture to argue that), it's easy to show that ...


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

Latin has a pretty large class of nouns like these, which are actually called abundantia in the grammatical tradition. They're second-declension nouns which occur as both masculine and neuter, with no difference in meaning. Examples: baculum/baculus 'staff', cingulum/cingulus 'belt', collum/collus 'neck', pileus/pileum 'cap', vallus/vallum 'palisade'. ...


6

Absolutely it does. Aside from various bitransitive schemes, two NPs in a row is a standard parsing signal for an upcoming relative clause with a nonsubject relative. The man who Bill saw left early. The man that Bill saw left early. the man [∅] Bill saw left early. = [[man]np [[Bill]np saw]s]np The man who saw Bill left early. The man that saw Bill left ...


6

This is a good question, but your example is not a good one. An “electron cloud” is indeed not a cloud in the original sense of the word “cloud” (in the atmosphere), but it is a “cloud” in the figurative sense of a nebulous cluster. A better example would be something like “lion heart”, which is not a lion and not a heart, but a person whose heart (here in ...


6

Would be good to know if this is just because of the fact that English is messy, or there is some other reason. Yes and yes. Yes, because English is messy. The -tion examples are of course all Romance, although there are a few native English words with -tion and other Romance suffixes. Yes, even without the mess (messiness?) there are different types of ...


6

Long ago many words ended in sounds which were for some reason lost. It was those now lost sounds that triggered different kinds of assimilation and other consonant changes in the words that followed them. E.g.: Welsh bach [baχ] 'little', but merch fach [merχ vaχ] 'little girl': in Proto-Celtic 'girl' was *merkā, so the [b] of bach got between 2 vowels and ...


5

-er a derivational suffix because it changes the word class to which the entire expression belongs. That is what defines derivational affixes. bake is a verb, but bak-er is a noun. (I assume the stem bak because the final letter e is not pronounced.) Productivity is not a sufficient criterion for the distinction of inflection and derivation. English ...


5

I always thought that English lost its cases as a result of Viking settlement. Although the root words were quite often the same, the inflections were different. However, it was found that if the Danes and the English used prepositions instead of inflections, the two tongues became mutually intelligible. There are a number of papers available on this subject,...


5

The best term to denote headstrong when it functions like a noun is nominal. The term nominal is broader than the the term noun. Any word that functions as the head of a noun phrase is a nominal. Thus if the head of a noun phrase looks like an adjective (e.g. the good, the helpful, the first, the best, etc.), then one can use the term "nominal" to denote it. ...


5

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.] (Appendix I is PIE roots.) This website: https://www.etymonline.com/word/gender, says that even in Latin "genus" could mean sexual gender, as well as ...


5

Only in a few cases you can find a meaningful answer to a question asking "why there is something lacking in a language". Normally, there is simply no answer. For example, why did not Ancient Greek have e Locative case in its nominal declension? Probably because it coalesced with the Dative. But why didn't it have a Comitative case? There is no answer to ...


5

To approach this from a different angle, I am married to a Xhosa woman. There may be no word in her language for 'parent' in the sense of a biological parent. Rather, mothers and fathers are those who belong to the next generation up, in other words one's biological parents and all of their siblings. Sometimes the siblings may be called tata mncimnci (small ...


5

The term for what a nominal refers to is referent.


5

I agree that this is a question better posed elsewhere, but a quick answer in point form: Note that "noun" and "name" are to be considered synonymous here, as a result of Latinate languages' influence on this terminology, e.g. French whose word nom refers to both. The term "proper name" has existed since at least the 13th century. At that time, "proper" had ...


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