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Re: Genders (Forgive me for this :) )

From:Tom Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Monday, January 10, 2000, 9:56
Barry Garcia wrote:

> writes: > >Why *should* English have any morphological marking of gender on nouns? > >Why *should* any language mark *anything* morphologically? (Chinese > >comes pretty close to not doing the latter) > > > >(Not trying to be aggressive here -- just trying to uproot that person's > >basic assumptions about the way language works) > > Well, she herself said she didn't know much about languages, so i guess it > didn't occur to her that any given language doesn't need gender to > function. I must say, I used to wonder why the romance languages needed > gender, until I found out their histories.
Well, it's not really a question of *needing*. It's more a question of *having*, in the sociolinguistic context of the culture that gives birth to a given language. One could make the argument that Romance languages *needed* morphological case marking, but obviously, Romance speakers didn't think so, because they got rid of almost all of it. I can kinda see, though, why Romance languages usually cut the genders down to two, neuter being so nearly indistinct from masculine and all, if that's what you mean by needing. =========================================== Tom Wier <artabanos@...> AIM: Deuterotom ICQ: 4315704 <> "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." ===========================================