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Thread: Dutch feminine

  1. #1
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    Dutch feminine

    I am having trouble with determining the gender of de-words. I know that the Dutch masculine and feminine have basically merged but the distinction is still made in the pronouns that refer to them, so it is important. I am having trouble with finding out if words that do not have the recognizable suffixes such as -heid and -nis are feminine (and any other suffixes and patterns, such as nouns that are derived with just the stem and occasionally a vowel change being mostly masculine). Mostly it is the one-syllable words which don't consist of anything but a root that present a problem. The dictionaries I have found online have "v/m" written next to them, which is rather obvious, since it is a de-word. I was having trouble with "stip" and "buis" recently.
    How can I know if any such words they are feminine or not? If it is completely random, could someone suggest a dictionary online where it is specifically stated whether the noun in question is feminine or masculine?

    Thank you

  2. #2
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Van Dale gives the gender of each word. Sometimes both are equally possible, or one is preferred and the other merely possible. I'm afraid that for the vast majority of words, there is no way to guess what is its gender. It's a bit of a bad situation for learners because it seems too small a point to spend so much time on, but at the same time, the genders have not disappeared completely, as you point out yourself. If I were you, I would not learn the genders apart from de/het. It's just not worth it.

  3. #3
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by HKK View Post
    If I were you, I would not learn the genders apart from de/het. It's just not worth it.
    Wooow

    Well..., I don't agree.

    PS. "Stip" is one of those words where the two genders are possible.
    Last edited by Peterdg; 27th June 2012 at 10:31 PM.
    Mientras el asno está echado, no puede estar levantado. (Timoneda)

  4. #4
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    I do agree with HKK - as someone who has learned Dutch I can speak from experience. I lived in the Netherlands for thirty years and was often mistaken for a native but I still do not know the gender (m/v) of most words. I have never had any problems with pronouns - if I were to use the correct one for most feminine words I would immediately be spotted as a foreigner or a pedant. The distinction is just not made any more in normal speech.
    (I can only speak for NL, it may be different in Belgium)
    Never mind the words, just concentrate on translating the meaning.

  5. #5
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by Suehil View Post
    (I can only speak for NL, it may be different in Belgium)
    Very different

    We, in Flanders, have the immense advantage to have a different undetermined article for feminine, masculine and neutral nouns in many of our dialects. "ne" for a masculine noun, "en" ("e" = schwa) for a feminine noun and "e" (schwa) for a neutral noun. Never fails!! At the same time, because of that, we have an almost innate sense (and sensitivity) to detect gender mistakes.
    Mientras el asno está echado, no puede estar levantado. (Timoneda)

  6. #6
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by Peterdg View Post
    Very different.We, in Flanders, have the immense advantage to have a different undetermined article for feminine, masculine and neutral nouns in many of our dialects.
    Oooh, that's why they call a dog ne'nund in Antwerp .
    Hi 123xyz, Avoid the bad practices of some here in this forum .

    Groetjes Herman

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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Oh, I didn't know that no one minded the pronouns anymore. So it wouldn't matter if I referred to all de-words that don't refer to an actual female entity (like moeder, vrouw, dievegge, verpleegster, zangeres...) with "hem" en "zijn" even though some are meant to be feminine? Even with "-heid" and "-nis" words?
    And as for the words that can be equally feminine as they can be masculine, does that mean that they were once feminine? Could one switch from referring to them as "haar" to referring to them as "hem" in the same dialogue, if both are acceptable (provided one uses the feminine gender)?
    I think it is more likely for a feminine word to become masculine than the other way around. I suppose the German genders would also help for cognate words, though I won't be likely to find cognates in that many cases :/

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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by 123xyz View Post
    Oh, I didn't know that no one minded the pronouns anymore. So it wouldn't matter if I referred to all de-words that don't refer to an actual female entity (like moeder, vrouw, dievegge, verpleegster, zangeres...) with "hem" en "zijn" even though some are meant to be feminine? Even with "-heid" and "-nis" words?
    And as for the words that can be equally feminine as they can be masculine, does that mean that they were once feminine? Could one switch from referring to them as "haar" to referring to them as "hem" in the same dialogue, if both are acceptable (provided one uses the feminine gender)?
    I think it is more likely for a feminine word to become masculine than the other way around. I suppose the German genders would also help for cognate words, though I won't be likely to find cognates in that many cases :/
    Well, the Dutch would say no, it doesn't matter, but the Flemish would say it does.

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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by Lopes View Post
    Well, the Dutch would say no, it doesn't matter, but the Flemish would say it does.
    Mientras el asno está echado, no puede estar levantado. (Timoneda)

  10. #10
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Are you serious Peter, do you think it's that important?

    I don't, really. Only for nouns with an animate meaning as an exception perhaps, there it makes sense, but because it actually does make (more) sense: there, it's not arbitrary.

    Personally, I don't think it's a bad idea to ignore the masculine/feminine distinction when learning Dutch. There's more important things to focus on. Personal pronouns are not used that much for nouns with inanimate meanings anyway, and in Dutch you can pretty much refer to anything with het as an indefinite pronoun. The case is different for possessives but again, they are not used often for nouns with inanimate meanings.

    For those learners who live in Flanders, it is more important to get to distinguish the masculine words from the feminine ones, but living in Flanders, they will probably pick up more dialectal variants at some point in which they will learn the genders. And then you're there. Isn't it how the Flemish themselves know genders too: just look at their dialect. It is for me. And even then I'm not always sure.. (I sometimes have to use fancy words which I hardly ever use in dialect .)

  11. #11
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Ja, ik vind dat eigenlijk wel.

    Ik huiver (nou ja, alles went) bij "de boom verliest *haar bladeren" of "de zware industrie heeft veel van *zijn belang verloren".
    Mientras el asno está echado, no puede estar levantado. (Timoneda)

  12. #12
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by Peterdg View Post
    Ik huiver (nou ja, alles went) bij "de boom verliest *haar bladeren" of "de zware industrie heeft veel van *zijn belang verloren".
    Akkoord, je herkent ze wel als fout, maar die constructies komen eigenlijk erg zelden voor. En voor niet-levende dingen kan je het vaak gemakkelijk anders verwoorden zodat je niet moet riskeren een fout te maken. (Bovendien lijkt het me nogal streng om taalleerders af te rekenen op fouten die Nederlanders de hele tijd maken. )

    Als je dat weet (weinig voorkomen + gemakkelijk te omzeilen), en je weet hoeveel tijd je nog eens zou moeten steken in het van buiten leren van de geslachten (want je herkent ze niet, niet aan de lidwoorden, maar zoals gezegd ook maar zelden aan de voornaamwoorden), dan is het volgens mij belachelijk om daar tijd in te steken zolang je de- en het-woorden nog niet perfect kan onderscheiden, de ui of g maar moeilijk kan uitspreken, nog problemen hebt met de woordvolgorde of zelfs nog aan je spelling kan werken.

    De leerder die deze basisdingen al écht beheerst, is in Vlaanderen al toe aan het leren van de locale variant en wordt dan geconfronteerd met het verschil mannelijk-vrouwelijk. Een verschil dat hij/zij dan gemakkelijker zal kunnen leren want de lidwoorden tonen hem/haar de weg.

    Enfin, zo denk ik er toch over.
    (Dat gezegd zijnde, vind ik wel dat Nederlanders eens dringend de woordgeslachten mogen van buiten leren. )

  13. #13
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by Peterdg View Post
    Ja, ik vind dat eigenlijk wel.

    Ik huiver (nou ja, alles went) bij "de boom verliest *haar bladeren" of "de zware industrie heeft veel van *zijn belang verloren".
    Geen zorgen, we zeggen altijd 'zijn'

    Volgens mij heeft Joannes jaren geleden nog eens zijn uiterste verbazing uitgesproken omdat ik ook 'hij' en 'zijn' tegen een koe zei. Hij lijkt er inmiddels al een beetje aan gewend...

  14. #14
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by Lopes View Post
    Volgens mij heeft Joannes jaren geleden nog eens zijn uiterste verbazing uitgesproken omdat ik ook 'hij' en 'zijn' tegen een koe zei. Hij lijkt er inmiddels al een beetje aan gewend...
    NOOIT!
    Ik schreef wel degelijk dat voor zelfstandige naamwoorden die naar levende wezens (niet alleen menselijke) verwijzen, het wel aangewezen is om het woordgeslacht tot het detail mannelijk/vrouwelijk te kennen.

    "De koe staat in de wei. Hij wordt gemolken."
    en "De slang hangt in een tak. Hij sist op zoek naar een prooi."
    vind ik er wat over (en de koe nog een stuk erger dan de slang)..

    Met honden en katten is het voor mij okee als het niet zomaar 'een' hond of 'een' kat is, maar een huisdier dat bijna als een familielid wordt beschouwd, een naam heeft en waarvan het natuurlijk geslacht gekend is. (Een beetje vergelijkbaar met wanneer in het Engels met he of she mag verwezen worden naar dieren in plaats van met it.)

  15. #15
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Thank you for the thorough replies

  16. #16
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    In mijn Nederlands worden voorwerpen nooit met "zij" aangeduid. Alleen bij huisdieren wel en dan alleen nog als je het betreffende vrouwtjesdier kent. Verder worden ter verwijzing volgens mij vaker "die" gebruikt dan persoonlijke voornaamwoorden.

  17. #17
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by Joannes View Post
    Are you serious Peter, do you think it's that important?

    I don't, really. Only for nouns with an animate meaning as an exception perhaps, there it makes sense, but because it actually does make (more) sense: there, it's not arbitrary.

    Personally, I don't think it's a bad idea to ignore the masculine/feminine distinction when learning Dutch. There's more important things to focus on. Personal pronouns are not used that much for nouns with inanimate meanings anyway, and in Dutch you can pretty much refer to anything with het as an indefinite pronoun. The case is different for possessives but again, they are not used often for nouns with inanimate meanings.

    For those learners who live in Flanders, it is more important to get to distinguish the masculine words from the feminine ones, but living in Flanders, they will probably pick up more dialectal variants at some point in which they will learn the genders. And then you're there. Isn't it how the Flemish themselves know genders too: just look at their dialect. It is for me. And even then I'm not always sure.. (I sometimes have to use fancy words which I hardly ever use in dialect .)
    In standardized Dutch (AN), the gender of a word (beyond masculine/femine (de) and neuter (het)) is simply not important except for when you want to refer to inanimate objects as "zij, hij" which is totally avoidable anyway, and is not worth the effort of learning.

    However, I agree and disagree with Peter: the distinction between the three genders is both important and unimportant in Belgium. No, it's not truly important in standard language in either country, as the structure can be completely avoided. However, in the semi-standardized Flemish dialect or some of the regional dialects, it is essential that you know the difference between male, female and neuter nouns:

    Mannelijk: nen traan, ne staart
    Vrouwelijk: een vrouw
    Onzijdig: een boekske

    ALSO

    Mannelijk: deze(n) dag, deze(n) oorlog
    Vrouwelijk: deze vrouw, deez organizatie (before vowels)
    Onzijdig: dit/dees kind

    Enz. This (and a few other things) is what people and books refer to when they say the three genders still play an important role in Belgium. However, if you live in the Netherlands or live in Belgium and have no interest in learning the Flemish dialect, it's absolutely of no use whatsoever.
    Last edited by Kabouterke; 29th September 2012 at 2:51 PM.

  18. #18
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Quote Originally Posted by Kabouterke View Post
    \
    Mannelijk: nen traan, ne staart Dit komt in Nederland niet voor.
    Vrouwelijk: een vrouw
    Onzijdig: een boekske ske-uitgangen komen weinig voor in Nederland.

    ALSO

    Mannelijk: deze(n) dag, deze(n) oorlog Dit klinkt vrij ouderwets en niemand zegt/schrijft dit meer in Nederland.
    Vrouwelijk: deze vrouw, deez organizatie (before vowels) "deez" komt niet voor in Nederland.
    Onzijdig: dit/dees kind "Dees" komt ook niet voor in Nederland.
    Dat is interessant zeg. De verschillen tussen Nederlands en Vlaams (of is dat niet de juiste benaming?) zijn toch best groot. Ik wist dat niet.

  19. #19
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Dag Couch Tomato,

    Quote Originally Posted by Couch Tomato View Post
    "Dees" komt ook niet voor in Nederland.
    Dat geloof ik niet echt.

    http://www.mijnwoordenboek.nl/dialect/Valkenswaards
    http://www.mijnwoordenboek.nl/dialect/Zeeuws

    Groetjes Herman

  20. #20
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    Re: Dutch feminine

    Oké, akkoord, in een dialect misschien. Maar het is niet standaard en zeker niet in geschreven Nederlands.

    Ik moet toegeven dat ik natuurlijk niet voor alle dialecten kan spreken. Ik weet wel wat in landelijke kranten en tijdschriften voorkomt en "dees" heb ik nog nooit in geschrift gezien.
    Last edited by Couch Tomato; 1st October 2012 at 2:27 AM.

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