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Another question: genders

From:H. S. Teoh <hsteoh@...>
Date:Thursday, August 10, 2000, 1:44
I've another question about terminology, if people don't mind... this time
it's about genders. :-)

Besides having a nullar number, the conlang I'm working on also has two
genders in addition to the regular masculine, feminine, and neuter.

One is what I'm tentatively calling "ambivalent", which indicates the noun
is both masculine and feminine (simultaneously). Well, I guess I should
say that gender in the language *is* directly linked to the actual sex of
the noun, not just an arbitrary categorization (like inanimate or abstract
nouns in Greek). Neuter is used for most inanimate nouns, while masculine
and feminine are strictly used only for persons/beings that have gender.
The ambivalent gender appears in words that refer to married couples, as
well as in unusual nouns.

The other special gender is tentatively called, for the lack of a better
term, the "ambiguous" gender. It only appears in nouns referring to things
that actually have gender (e.g., people). A noun in the "ambiguous" gender
indicates one of the following things: (1) the speaker doesn't know the
gender of the person(s)/thing(s) referred to yet, and doesn't want to
presume anything (the culture is very sensitive to that); (2) the speaker
is referring to a collective group of mixed genders (yes, the culture is
very picky about things like this); or, (3) the speaker does not want to
narrow his statements to one gender (did I say the culture is very
sensitive to things like this? :-)

In a nutshell, the "ambiguous" gender serves as a kind of "wildcard" that
can "become" either masculine and feminine (but not neuter) as needed.

Any comments/suggestions? "ambivalent" sounds OK to me, but "ambiguous"
seems somewhat awkward. (It does happen to sound like "ambivalent", that's
why I chose it in the first place.) I've seen a related word somewhere
that uses omni- but I forgot the exact word. (omniline? ominine? anybody