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Gender (was: LANGUAGE LAWS)

From:Raymond A. Brown <raybrown@...>
Date:Thursday, October 22, 1998, 20:28
At 6:01 am +0000 22/10/98, Mathias M. Lassailly wrote:
>Nik wrote :
>> Well, I don't think that these polysynthetic types *are* older than >> "modern" types. Your example of "animal-cow" is essentially a >> gender-marker (animal gender). > >Gender means that one of the two parts is sub-ordinated in meaning, which >would not the case where 'animal' is the 'cow' only when associated with >'cow' and 'cow' is that animal only when associated with 'animal'. Gender >classifiers are a much more 'scientific' way of ordering the world into >species :-)
Nah - there are many languages that do categorize their nouns into several genders and words like 'animal' may indeed be just such a gender marker. I really cannot see how, e.g. the Bantu gender markers are a more scientific way of ordering the world.
> > When such classifiers become mandatory, >> and spread to other words in the sentences (e.g., adjectives, verbs, >> pronouns), then they become genders. >> > >Gender is a sexual classifier.
With respect, this is nonsense. The Bantu languages have strict gender marking but one thing they do _not_ distinguish is sexual difference. The 3rd person pronoun, e.g. has quite a few different forms for the different gender agreements, e.g. the words for "he/ she/ it" in Xhosa are: Gender Sing. plural No.1 yena bona No.2 wona yona No.3 lona wona No.4 sona zona No.5 yona zona No.6 lona No.7 bona No.8 kona But nowhere is "she" differentiated from "he"! (Note the Xhosa pronouns are the emphatic, disjunctive forms. Meanings of pronouns are normally conveyed by various bound morphemes) I assume we are using 'gender' with its original and proper linguistic meaning and not in the way it is, IMO regrettably, now so often used as a euphemism for 'sex'. Ray. but it does not distinguish between 'he' and 'she'!