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
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
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'.
but it does not distinguish between 'he' and 'she'!