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Genders in conlangs

From:Jörg Rhiemeier <joerg_rhiemeier@...>
Date:Saturday, November 1, 2003, 15:16

On Fri, 31 Oct 2003 10:22:18 -0700,
Muke Tever <hotblack@...> wrote:

> On Fri, 31 Oct 2003 17:20:19 +0100, Andreas Johansson <andjo@...> > wrote: > > Surely there must have been _some_ grounds for the gender assignments, > > originally, no matter who random they may look after millennia of > > semantic, societal and technological change. > > Gender in Kirumb is assigned purely for morphological reasons: whatever > kind of stem-formant a substantive is made from determines whether a word > is m./f./neut., regardless of the meaning of the root; e.g. words in > nomen-actionis <-irí> are all f., words in nomen-agentis <-os> are m., etc. > > (However by the time of Atlantic Kirumb grammatical gender has ceased to > be of relevance.) > > How do others with conlangs with the familiar masc-fem-neut gender system > assign gender to words?
In Proto-Q, there are four genders: masculine, feminine, common and inanimate. Of the three animate genders (masc., fem., common), the first two are used, as in English, for entities with the actual gender. Otherwise, common gender is used. Example: chvana (common) `dog' chvano (masc.) `male dog' chvane (fem.) `female dog, bitch' Inanimate objects are always, well, inanimate. There are no arbitrary gender classifications that are not justified by semantics, with a few exceptions motivated by mythology (e.g., the sky is male and the earth is female). The morphology of the genders: the agentive stems of animate nouns end in -o if masculine, -e if feminine, -a if common. These are productive derivations, as can be seen in the example above. In the dual and plural, these genders are not distinguished; the dual agentive stem ends in -u, the plural in -i. The objective stems are formed by adding -m to the agentive stems. Inanimate nouns have no agentive stem, and the objective stem ends in a consonant. Dual is marked by -um and plural by -im. (Agentive stems and objective stems are forms that underlie the case forms. Inanimate nouns have a defective case paradigm with only those cases formed from the objective stem.) Greetings, Jörg.