FR: genders & prepositions for foreign states or provinces

Discussion in 'French and English Grammar / Grammaire française et anglaise' started by thevilla23, Jan 13, 2007.

  1. thevilla23 Member

    English, USA
    How do you know what states are what genders. or are they all one gender? Basically I want to know what Pennsylvania and Virginia are.

    Moderator note: please scroll to the bottom of this Resources post for links to sites that provide the genders of sub-national geographic regions (US states, Swiss cantons, French regions and departments, Chinese and Candian provinces, etc.)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2013
  2. john_riemann_soong

    john_riemann_soong Senior Member

    Singapore / United States
    English, Singlish, Chinese; Singapore
    The "ia" ending is from Latin, and French being a descendant of Latin, renders them "-ie". Being feminine in Latin, it is feminine in French also.

    "la Pennsylvanie"
    "la Virginie"

    But most of the states are masculine.
     
  3. thevilla23 Member

    English, USA
    So how would you say I moved to Virginia: J'ai demenage a la Virginia?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 28, 2013
  4. Markus

    Markus Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Canada - English
    Hi thevilla,

    Some states are masculine and some are feminine. Not only that, but they have different prepositions as well (tu vas au Texas mais tu vas dans le Nevada, even though both are masculine). For feminine states, you use en as a preposition. Therefore, to answer your question, you would say :

    J'ai déménagé en Virginie.
    [...]
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2014
  5. john_riemann_soong

    john_riemann_soong Senior Member

    Singapore / United States
    English, Singlish, Chinese; Singapore
    There's something I didn't think about much. What happens when you start talking about Chinese provinces? I can't see why "dans" is used for "Nevada", unless it's because "Texas" has an /s/ on the end.

    Curious, Wikipedia.fr says "le Hunan" ...

    Also the Malaysian state of "Johor" is sometimes spelt "Johore" - would this mean it has a variable gender?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 29, 2013
  6. Markus

    Markus Senior Member

    Paris, France
    Canada - English
    Then I'm clearly mistaken, I didn't think that the provinces of China had been thought out, I should have known better. My apologies!
     
  7. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Clicking randomly on a few names of Chinese provinces on wikipedia seems to corroborate my intuition: all names of provinces are masculine... except la Mongolie. And it ends with an E - so is it that provinces follow the rule for countries names?
     
  8. john_riemann_soong

    john_riemann_soong Senior Member

    Singapore / United States
    English, Singlish, Chinese; Singapore
    But what about whether it's "dans" or "au", etc.?

    "J'irai au Hunan"? "J'irai dans Guangdong"?
     
  9. lgd190 Senior Member

    Bilbao
    french, romanian
    je dirais "J'irai au Hunan" et "J'irai au Guangdong"

    de même que j'irai au Texas

    je soupçonne que "j'irai dans le Nevada" c'est pas mieux que "j'irai au Nevada", mais de là à savoir quelle règle se cache derrière tout ça ... :confused:
     
  10. geve

    geve Senior Member

    France, Paris
    France, French
    Personnellement, je suis allée dans le Jiangsu, dans le Zhejiang et dans le Sichuan. Je suis incapable de dire pourquoi je ne suis pas allée au Jiangsu, au Zhejiang et au Sichuan. :eek: Ah, si : je fais comme pour les régions et départements français en fait ! "En" pour les noms féminins, "dans l' / le / les" pour les noms masculins et pluriels. Je ne vais pas au Morbihan, mais dans le Morbihan, dans le Poitou-Charentes, dans l'Allier.
     
  11. ChiMike Senior Member

    Chicago USA
    USA, English
    Here is the rule, which is simple and elegant:
    All of the states of the United States are masculine gender
    EXCEPT those which do not use the actual name of the U.S. state, as is (tel quel), in French, i.e., those where the French have altered the name so that it has a French ending:
    la Virginie (la Virginie Occidentale)
    la Californie
    la Georgie
    la Pennsylvanie
    la Floride
    la Caroline
    la Louisiane

    It might also be pointed out that the French ending and the feminine gender in these cases are based on the Latin, Spanish, or French derivations of these words.
    -ia is a feminine ending in Latin and in Spanish; -ie, of course, is the corresponding one in French (Italia: Italie; Russia: Russie).
    La Louisiane was the original French name, but comes from Latin cartography: Terra Louisiana (la terre de Louis (XIV).
    Florida is feminine in Spanish and again: Terra Florida (fleurie).
    Carolina, although not having a -ia, has a Latin feminine ending and, like Louisiana, is named for a person - King Charles II - Terra Carolina (du nord et du sud).

    The rule thus has an historical basis. It also applies to "le Maine" (which is masculine as was the old French province) and "le Vermont" (vert mont) for obvious reasons.

    Alors, je déménage en Virginie, pour être exact, à Richmond (riche mont!).
     
  12. jooleeya Member

    Australian English
    Bonjour!

    Is there a hard and fast rule which says which states of a country are masculine and feminine? Is it the same as for countries (i.e. country ends in -e and is fem?).

    J'habite dans le Victoria / au Victoria
    J'habite dans le Queensland / au Queensland
    J'habite en Tasmanie

    Does this seem right? Or is there another way to tell?

    Merci!

    Jooleeya
     
  13. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    France
    Français
    Hi,
    I have worked out a rule to help you tell which country is masculine and which is feminine.

    Your examples are correct : Victoria is masculine, Queensland is masculine, and Tasmanie is feminine.

    The rule I have worked out is the following.
    There are on earth Two types of countries : The "Alien" countries and the "Familiar" countries. (The reference is France, of course)

    "Familiar" countries are all European countries, or French overseas territories. Their name has a long history and etymology, and so has their gender.
    Fortunately, it appears that among the "familiar" countries, only the ones that have a
    name ending in "E" are feminine, and every country that has a name ending in E is feminine.

    "Alien" countries are non-European countries. Their French name is very often a borrowing, more or less changed according to phonetics. As such, nobody thought about their gender, and they are all masculine by default, except if their name ends in a STRONG ending that compells the name to be feminine.
    The strong endings are : "IE" (like Géorgie, or Arabie), "INE" (like "Chine" or "Argentine"), and "LANDE". (like Thaïlande or Islande)
    I have looked at the world's map trying this rule, and I did not find exceptions.

    So, "Victoria" is masculine because it is an "Alien" country, and it has no particular ending, so is Queensland.
    And Tasmanie is feminine, because although it is "alien", it ends in "IE".
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  14. jooleeya Member

    Australian English
    Wow... I like it :)
    Nice way to explain it, merci Fred C!
    I can't think of any exceptions, either..
     
  15. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    France
    Français
    Now for the second part of the rule...

    Actually, there is a class of exceptions : Alien names ending in "ique".
    "ique" is a strong ending that is felt to be a adjective ending, and as an adjective, it can take the two genders.
    So Some alien countries ending in "ique" are feminine, and some are masculine, you must learn them :

    Continents are feminine : "Afrique", "Amérique" are feminine, but "antarctique" is masculine, because this one is a real adjective, and it stands for "le continent antarctique".
    For others, etymology may help. If in some other romance language, the name ends in "ICO", then it will be masculine, if it ends in "ICA", then it will be feminine.
    For example "Mexique" is masculine, because in spanish, you say "Mexico".

    NOTE : This trans-language gender rule works only for countries ending in "ique".
    For example "Costa rica" is masculine in French, (although obviously feminine in Spanish), because according to the rule above, it is an "alien" country, with no strong ending.
     
  16. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    Quite ingenious! Almost foolproof.

    But we say l'Alberta (f.) and la Saskatchewan.

    Cheers!
     
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2008
  17. Fred_C

    Fred_C Senior Member

    France
    Français
    This is VERY interesting, and that proves that I am right ! :D
    (Let me explain)
    Alberta and Saskatchewan are Canadian provinces, that the French Canadians consider "Familiar" countries.
    As I said, "Familiar" countries have a very long and complex history, and their gender is difficult to state for these reasons.

    But as a French citizen, I consider these countries "Alien", and I could have sworn that both were masculine (and I would have been wrong, obviously). Still now, I cannot help thinking that the feminine gender sounds strange for these names.

    This is a proof that there are two ways of considering the gender of a Country, depending on wether it is "familiar" or "alien".

    For familiar countries, I had said that Fortunately, every country ending in E were feminine, and only these ones were.
    Well, this was too good to be true, as there should be no such easy rule.
    However, for Alien countries, the rule HAS GOT to be very simple, (otherwise, it would not be human)
     
  18. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    To be fair to you, I must say that the gender of Saskatchewan used to be either one. Even in French Canadian literature one could find in the same novel Saskatchewan used as a masculine noun, and later as a feminine noun. But the government has since decreed that it is feminine.

    In the case of Alberta, when I was first learning French back in the 50s, I always thought it was masculine, and learned later that it was feminine. ;)

    Cheers!
     
  19. mpuma99 New Member

    English
    Bonjour,

    Quand on parle des etats americains, et on veut dire " I'm going to New Jersey this weekend" en francais, est-il exact de dire, " Je vais au New jersey ce weekend", ou doit-on dire "je vais dans le NJ ..." Les deux me semblent corrects. Commentaires?
     
  20. yannalan Senior Member

    france, french, breton
    "Je vais dans le NJ est seul correct, ici. Mais ça peut varier selon les états :
    -je vais en Californie , dans l'Etat de New York... à Hawaï... en Arizona...
    Faudrait voir état par état...
     
  21. Oddmania

    Oddmania Senior Member

    France
    French
    Hi,

    Have a look at this article. It points out which gender is each State : (m) for masculine, and (f) for feminine.

    We usually use en with feminine States and masculine ones that start with a vowel (En Floride, en Arkansas). For that matter, Au New Jersey doesn't sound wrong to me, but I agree to say that dans le NJ sounds much more common.

    Note that we (at least, I) wouldn't say au Rhode Island or even less dans le Rhode Island. As island means île, and as we say Je vais à l'île de + [name] (à l'île de la Réunion,...), we tend to stick to the French structure, saying à Rhode Island.

    It seems pretty random, though. I'd say either au Kentucky or dans le Kentucky indifferently, but definitely only au Kansas, not dans le Kansas.
     
  22. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Non, pour les États masculins, on peut dire les deux :

    au New Jersey :tick:
    dans le New Jersey :tick:

    Voir également nos ressources linguistiques sur les pays, etc.
     
  23. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Et dites-vous également uniquement dans le Texas et jamais au Texas ?
     
  24. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    Je suis favorable à cette tolérance (à condition d'ajouter : « les noms d'états masculins qui commencent par une consonne »), qui correspond sans doute à la variation observable à travers tous les locuteurs, mais chaque individu peut avoir des préférences fortes et inexplicables, comme Oddmania en a témoigné. Je suis donc d'accord avec yannalan quand il dit qu'il faudrait regarder état par état (mais bien se garder de déclarer son propre usage « seul correct », même en se limitant à sa propre région).
     
  25. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Oui, absolument. :thumbsup: Je crois en effet que personne ne dirait à l'Indiana, à l'Ohio, etc. ; uniquement dans l'Indiana, dans l'Ohio, etc.
     
  26. yannalan Senior Member

    france, french, breton
    Non, là je dirai au Texas et pas dans le Texas. Pourquoi ? Je n'en sais rien à vrai dire et je n'ai pas l'impression que l'on puisse tirer une règle fixe.
     
  27. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Mais si ! :D La voici :

    Pour les États masculins commençant par une consonne, on peut dire les deux, encore qu'il peut y avoir des préférences pour l'une ou l'autre préposition selon les personnes et selon l'État considéré.
     
  28. CapnPrep Senior Member

    France
    AmE
    On peut bien sûr décider a priori d'admettre les deux constructions, mais je pense que yannalan cherchait une éventuelle explication pour son usage à lui, ce qui est une question légitime. Selon Nachtmann (1981), dont les recommandations sont résumées dans la liste donnée en lien plus haut (#4), dans le est acceptable pour la plupart des loctueurs pour tous les états masculins à quelques exceptions près :

    • au Texas (ancien pays indépendant), au Nouveau-Mexique (par analogie avec le Mexique)
    • à Hawaii (île)
    • dans l'etat de New York, de Washington (à cause des villes homonymes)
    Pour tous les autres il recommande généralement dans le, mais il signale les cas où cette structure est fortement concurrencée par au (ou par en pour certains noms à initiale vocalique).
     
  29. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Est-ce qu'on no peut pas dire "en Indiana" et "en Ohio" (une autre option que vous n'avez pas mentionnée)?
     
  30. geostan

    geostan Senior Member

    English Canada
    zapspan,

    Bien sûr qu'on peut dire en Indiana et en Ohio.

    CapnPrep,

    Je crois qu'il faut mettre une majuscule pour dans l'État de...
     
  31. zapspan Senior Member

    English, USA (Southern California)
    Merci, geostan. Et est-ce qu'on peut utiliser la formule dans le/la/l' pour n'importe quel état? (Maître Capello a donné les exemples de "dans l'Indiana, dans l'Ohio")
     
  32. Maître Capello

    Maître Capello Mod et ratures

    Suisse romande
    French – Switzerland
    Je ne dirais personnellement pas en Indiana ni en Ohio, même si cela ne me choquerait pas trop si je l'entendais, au contraire de à l'Indiana et à l'Ohio
     

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