Gender in languages - why?

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germinal

Senior Member
England English
Outsider said:
With 2 genders and 2 numbers, there's only a 25% chance that two random nouns will be of the same gender and number.

Is this a mathematical or a linguistic claim? Are you talking here about mere chance or about the actual occurance of the various forms in a language?
 
  • Cnaeius

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    Fernando said:
    Yes, I think all Romanic speakers tend to abuse of accrobation. Too many subordinates! :D

    Off topic: I would say the most typical name for Cn. Pompeius is Cnaeus or Cneus, though it is true that Cnaeius is also used.
    We are a bit complicate...I agree :eek:

    Off: Cnaeius is referred to Pompeius but in relation to a fact of my life of student
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    germinal said:
    Is this a mathematical or a linguistic claim? Are you talking here about mere chance or about the actual occurance of the various forms in a language?
    It's a very crude approximation, of course, since words don't really occur at random in a conversation. But I think it's in line with what Cnaeius wrote above:

    Cnaeius said:
    The principle is the same of the declension cases: why in latin we can increase distance from related words? Because that words have signs: the case endings. And if the case is the same? But gender endings can be different.
    In other words, gender as a mechanism to reduce the likelihood of ambiguities.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Cnaeius said:
    We are a bit complicate...I agree :eek:
    And sometimes we get lost, which can be embarassing, or annoying. I see people speaking on TV who could learn a lot from the conciseness of English. :rolleyes:
     

    Cnaeius

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    natasha2000 said:
    Well... These are my answers...
    Natasha, perhaps I found the example to make things clearer. Let use only the singular masculine gender, so the advantages of having different genders in this sentence disappear--> the word order becomes more important: "bracciale" and "anello" are both singular masculine

    Marco prese non il bracciale ma l'anello, in quanto donatogli dalla moglie

    In italian it is clear that "donatogli" refers to anello and not to bracciale.
    But if we write:

    L'anello prese Marco ma non il bracciale, in quanto donatogli dalla moglie

    "donatogli" refers to "bracciale" and the sentence has a completely different meaning.
    Why? because if there is not anything else, distance determines relation between words--> word order is fundamental.
    Hope it helps

     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    :D
    Cnaeius said:
    Natasha, perhaps I found the example to make things clearer. Let use only the singular masculine gender, so the advantages of having different genders in this sentence disappear--> the word order becomes more important: "bracciale" and "anello" are both singular masculine

    Marco prese non il bracciale ma l'anello, in quanto donatogli dalla moglie

    In italian it is clear that "donatogli" refers to anello and not to bracciale.
    But if we write:

    L'anello prese Marco ma non il bracciale, in quanto donatogli dalla moglie

    "donatogli" refers to "bracciale" and the sentence has a completely different meaning.
    Why? because if there is not anything else, distance determines relation between words--> word order is fundamental.
    Hope it helps
    You don't give up easily, don't you?;)

    If you put it in Spanish, I would be able to try to analyze. I don't even know what these words mean. Thanks.
     

    danzomicrobo

    Member
    U.S./English
    I think that the one constant is that languages change over time and that change is driven be the way that people speak.

    Part of that way is conscious choice and part of it is unconscious. I think that somewhere back before writing was invented, someone saw logical groupings of things and started expressing those similarities by modifying all the words for similar groupings. I doubt that this was conscious, as I can see with children changing word endings to make words rhyme.

    People who were communicating with this person liked the novelty and logic of the changes and consciously or unconsciously adopted that system or expanded it to make it their own. Enough people adopted the practice and it became the standard way of expressing things.

    Of course, there may be other reasons, but I don't think that a committee was formed.
     

    jokker

    Senior Member
    Chinese/Taiwan
    Brioche said:
    Chinese has none of these features, and the Chinese have no difficulty communicating among themselves.
    TimeHP said:
    But their ideograms have a sign for female nouns...
    妈妈 (mother)
    (she)
    妹妹 (sister)

    Ciao

    I would say that what Brioche said was appropriate and correct. You can say Chinese has no gender.

    Chinese had only used he (他) to refer to both male and female until about 100 years ago. Chinese doesn't have 'she' (她) originally.

    媽媽 -> mama
    母親 -> mother
    娘 -> mother
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    Residente Calle 13 said:
    I found this page to be interesting.
    That page seems to treat Old English genders as something peculiar to Old English.

    Old English genders came from the Germanic roots of English. It's not mere coincidence that stan [stone] in OE was masculine, just like Stein [stone] is in German. Ditto for durru [door] which was feminine in OE , just like the modern German cognate Tür.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    jokker said:
    I would say that what Brioche said was appropriate and correct. You can say Chinese has no gender.

    Chinese had only used he (他) to refer to both male and female until about 100 years ago. Chinese doesn't have 'she' (她) originally.

    媽媽 -> mama
    母親 -> mother
    娘 -> mother
    In Chinese characters there is a written form for 'she' 她,
    and there is also a character for 'it', 它
    but 'she and 'it' sound exactly the same as the character for 'he' 他.

    If Chinese is written in Pinyin, there is no difference. All three words are tā.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Well, this is a very interesting discussion! All I can say is that

    a) It's even more fun if you have 3 genders, 4 declensions, and a different ending for each person of a verb and 3 verb moods (modern Greek that is)

    b) While spelling may have a lot to do with historical or even sentimental reasons, genders and such are either kept or discarded in an unconscious sort of way. That said, I must admit that I cannot think of a good reason for i.e (in Greek) "lighter" to be a masculine, "newspaper" a female and "telephone" a neuter. :)
     

    jokker

    Senior Member
    Chinese/Taiwan
    Brioche said:
    In Chinese characters there is a written form for 'she' 她,
    Yes. :) 她, created because of westernization, exists for only 100 years. There are many (? or, some) words that don't exist originally.
    and there is also a character for 'it', 它
    but 'she and 'it' sound exactly the same as the character for 'he' 他.

    If Chinese is written in Pinyin, there is no difference. All three words are tā.
    Exactly.:) As for 它, I can't say if it exists originally off the top of my head.:p
     

    Cnaeius

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    natasha2000 said:
    :D

    You don't give up easily, don't you?;)

    If you put it in Spanish, I would be able to try to analyze. I don't even know what these words mean. Thanks.
    Italian is my mother tongue and so I, and we italians more or less, know very well the property we have discussed: simply because we use and take advantage of it when it is possible. :)
    That is why I’ve been so determined. The example in the last post (that is always the same sentence of previous posts) shows that when it is not possible because genders are the same, the advantage disappear.
    Anyway I do not want to be too boring. Besides I cannot translate in spanish the implicite subordinate “in quanto donatagli”, I have necessarily to render it as explicit clause, but this nullifies the example: probably my knowledge of Spanish is not at sufficient level. But I think it is possible to find out other examples to show the same facts both in Spanish and in French, as other WR friends have said.
    So, how can I say, I give up!
    Ciao
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    Well, one can always ask "A tonal language where the change of inflection changes the meaning? Why? " I mean for tone-deaf people like me it's a torture and I have already provided enough entertainment to a net-friend by the absolutely ridiculous mistakes I make. I find that not relying to a good-old alphabet and having to remember the different tones necessary to actually avoid confusion (if not complete lack of comprehension) an unecessary complication.

    (the point of this post is that each linguistic system seems normal and easy etc to the native speakers but difficult and some times "illogical" to outsiders)
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    Cnaeius,

    I was thinking... Why must I keep the same words in the sentence at all?:confused:
    The question is the moblity of the word within the sentence, i.e. if I can place the object, or the subject in various places in the sentence... It is not important if I add or change a word or two in the sentence, the important thing is that I can put the subject or object in different places (i.e. to move it within the sentence).....
     
    'Twas a noble battle, mon ami, I understand the long, hard battle may have gotten the best of you, with your well-thought out arguments falling upon deaf ears. Retire secure in the knowledge that you did your best, and I know you were right all along ;) ;)! Surrender, but never capitulate, for your reasoning is most solid...

    Cnaeius said:
    Italian is my mother tongue and so I, and we italians more or less, know very well the property we have discussed: simply because we use and take advantage of it when it is possible. :)
    That is why I’ve been so determined. The example in the last post (that is always the same sentence of previous posts) shows that when it is not possible because genders are the same, the advantage disappear.
    Anyway I do not want to be too boring. Besides I cannot translate in spanish the implicite subordinate “in quanto donatagli”, I have necessarily to render it as explicit clause, but this nullifies the example: probably my knowledge of Spanish is not at sufficient level. But I think it is possible to find out other examples to show the same facts both in Spanish and in French, as other WR friends have said.
    So, how can I say, I give up!
    Ciao
     

    diegodbs

    Senior Member
    Spain-Spanish
    ireney said:
    Well, one can always ask "A tonal language where the change of inflection changes the meaning? Why? " I mean for tone-deaf people like me it's a torture and I have already provided enough entertainment to a net-friend by the absolutely ridiculous mistakes I make. I find that not relying to a good-old alphabet and having to remember the different tones necessary to actually avoid confusion (if not complete lack of comprehension) an unecessary complication.

    (the point of this post is that each linguistic system seems normal and easy etc to the native speakers but difficult and some times "illogical" to outsiders)
    That's the point. Imagine click languages. Are they logical or not? It all depends on who answers the question.
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    badgrammar said:
    'Twas a noble battle, mon ami, I understand the long, hard battle may have gotten the best of you, with your well-thought out arguments falling upon deaf ears. Retire secure in the knowledge that you did your best, and I know you were right all along ;) ;)! Surrender, but never capitulate, for your reasoning is most solid...
    The important thing is that your ears are not deaf.....:mad:
    I don't see the reason to look down on someone whose only "guilt" is not having the same opinion on something. Thank you very much.
     

    germinal

    Senior Member
    England English
    ireney said:
    Well, this is a very interesting discussion! All I can say is that

    a) It's even more fun if you have 3 genders, 4 declensions, and a different ending for each person of a verb and 3 verb moods (modern Greek that is)

    b) While spelling may have a lot to do with historical or even sentimental reasons, genders and such are either kept or discarded in an unconscious sort of way. That said, I must admit that I cannot think of a good reason for i.e (in Greek) "lighter" to be a masculine, "newspaper" a female and "telephone" a neuter. :)

    Interesting point about the lighter, newspaper and telephone. I have often wondered how gender is assigned to newly invented nouns or nouns borrowed from other languages.

    There must be a period of confusion initially before any national committee
    makes a pronouncement and they must choose according to some criteria.

    .
     

    Cnaeius

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    natasha2000 said:
    Cnaeius,

    I was thinking... Why must I keep the same words in the sentence at all?:confused:
    The question is the moblity of the word within the sentence, i.e. if I can place the object, or the subject in various places in the sentence... It is not important if I add or change a word or two in the sentence, the important thing is that I can put the subject or object in different places (i.e. to move it within the sentence).....
    The focus is not on swapping subject-object but on changing distance between relates words, e.g. a noun and its participle as in the example. Changing this distance can be achieved by swapping subject and object but the focus is not necessarily on subject-object: in my first examples the focus is only on the two nouns (anello e collana) and the participle (donatagli). If the words are distant and have signs relating them (morphologically: case and/or genders) they can actually be related, otherwise there could be confusion. So it becomes important if I add a word or more because they could change distance between the focused words or could help giving context.
    ciao
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    Marco prese la collana e non l’anello, in quanto donatagli dalla moglie
    :idea: OK, I got it what you were trying to say. The A in donatAgli is feminine gender of participle which means literally, GIVEN, and it referrs to collanA, neckless which is also feminine.

    Marco cogió la cadenA y no el anillo, regaladA por su mujer.

    NOTE: Spanish speakers, don't criticize my translation, since I did it as literal as possible, in order to make it more similar to italian original.

    But if the two words were of the same gender, then it wouldn't be so clear which object he took. We would need more context to SUPPOSE it.

    Marco cogió el collar y no el anillo, regalado por su mujer.

    If he loved his wife, he probably took the necklace (collar) and if not, maybe he DID leave the gift of his wife and took the other thing - the ring (anillo).

    Then, the English translation would be:
    Marco took the necklace and not the ring, he was given by his wife.

    I don't even have to try to change the word order, it is perfectly cofusing!:D

    I was focusing all the time on the necklace and the ring, and not on the participle, which I didn't even put in my first translations.... Wrong focusing, I guess.

    OK... My apologies... I do understand now what you were trying to say.
    Thanks for not giving up.:thumbsup:
     

    Cnaeius

    Senior Member
    Italian, Italy
    natasha2000 said:
    :idea: OK, I got it what you were trying to say. The A in donatAgli is feminine gender of participle which means literally, GIVEN, and it referrs to collanA, neckless which is also feminine.

    Marco cogió la cadenA y no el anillo, regaladA por su mujer.

    NOTE: Spanish speakers, don't criticize my translation, since I did it as literal as possible, in order to make it more similar to italian original.

    But if the two words were of the same gender, then it wouldn't be so clear which object he took. We would need more context to SUPPOSE it.

    Marco cogió el collar y no el anillo, regalado por su mujer.

    If he loved his wife, he probably took the necklace (collar) and if not, maybe he DID leave the gift of his wife and took the other thing - the ring (anillo).

    Then, the English translation would be:
    Marco took the necklace and not the ring, he was given by his wife.

    I don't even have to try to change the word order, it is perfectly cofusing!:D
    OK... My apologies... I do understand now what you were trying to say.
    Thanks for not giving up.:thumbsup:
    Yes!:thumbsup:
    Don't worry! I'm happy we finally agree
    Ciao
     

    diegodbs

    Senior Member
    Spain-Spanish
    germinal said:
    Interesting point about the lighter, newspaper and telephone. I have often wondered how gender is assigned to newly invented nouns or nouns borrowed from other languages.

    There must be a period of confusion initially before any national committee
    makes a pronouncement and they must choose according to some criteria.

    .
    Not so much confusion in Spanish. It comes almost naturally the way we assign grammatical gender to foreign words.

    Words ending in -o are masculine
    Words ending in -a are feminime
    Words ending in a consonant, masculine.

    el láser (masc.), la televisión (fem.), el fax (masc.), la radiografía (fem.)
    etc.

    Not all Spanish words follow the simple rules given above, but we tend to use those rules for foreign words. So the first time someone needs to use a foreign word in a newspaper (for example), he will unconsciously follow that rule because it's natural to Spanish.
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    now I am confused (and yes, imported words ending in -a are automatically fem in Greek too)

    You said that words ending in a consonant are masculine. But la television??
     

    diegodbs

    Senior Member
    Spain-Spanish
    ireney said:
    now I am confused (and yes, imported words ending in -a are automatically fem in Greek too)

    You said that words ending in a consonant are masculine. But la television??
    Because almost all the words ending in -ión in Spanish are feminine.

    acción, revisión, televisión, tentación, nación, ilusión, estación, reunión, etc etc.
     

    roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    ireney said:
    now I am confused (and yes, imported words ending in -a are automatically fem in Greek too)

    You said that words ending in a consonant are masculine. But la television??
    He was giving you a general rule, but as you see it doesn't always work:
    el problema
    el mapa (Comes from Greek)
    el día
    la mano
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    oh! My mistake then.
    So the question still stands (bar such cases as words ending in -a etc in which morphological similarities are the ones that determine the gender)
     

    TimeHP

    Senior Member
    Italian - Italy
    I must state beforehand that gender in languages it's not a matter of life and death for me. Every language has its own characteristics and I love the varieties of languages.

    Chinese had only used he (他) to refer to both male and female until about 100 years ago. Chinese doesn't have 'she' (她) originally
    So, it seems they gave in to necessity, didn't they? ;)
    Anyway the sign 女 is used in lots of words and it is one of the first ideograms.


    ArchaicSeal scriptTraditional ModernSimplifiedPinyinGloss
    rénmanwoman Ciao
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    diegodbs said:
    Not so much confusion in Spanish. It comes almost naturally the way we assign grammatical gender to foreign words.

    Words ending in -o are masculine
    Words ending in -a are feminime
    Words ending in a consonant, masculine.

    el láser (masc.), la televisión (fem.), el fax (masc.), la radiografía (fem.)
    etc.

    Not all Spanish words follow the simple rules given above, but we tend to use those rules for foreign words. So the first time someone needs to use a foreign word in a newspaper (for example), he will unconsciously follow that rule because it's natural to Spanish.
    Portuguese is like Spanish, but I will add that when the word ends in a consonant its gender may depend on whether the particular consonant is itself common in the language or not. When the neologism has a 'weird' ending, or when we use foreign untranslated words in a conversation, it seems that most of us pick one particular gender by default, for all foreign nouns. For example, I've noticed that most Portuguese people treat foreign untranslated nouns like software, hardware and (disk) drive as masculine by default, whereas Brazilians seem to treat most of them as feminine by default.
     
    natasha2000 said:
    The important thing is that your ears are not deaf.....:mad:
    I don't see the reason to look down on someone whose only "guilt" is not having the same opinion on something. Thank you very much.
    I certainly look down on no one and on no other language. I have stated that I know that gender in a language allows for certain precisions that you canot make in languages that do not have gender without refering directly back to the subject or object. That you did not understand why is fine. My post to Cnaeius was in no way directed to you. It was a response to his noble efforts to explain how gender functions in this way, and especially his last line "I give up"!

    I am sorry if you took that as some sort of personal attack, it certainly was not meant to be one.
     

    Outsider

    Senior Member
    Portuguese (Portugal)
    Badgrammar, Cnaeius also made the claim that gender agreement allows one to change word order in a sentence. This is what Natasha and I disagreed with.
     

    diegodbs

    Senior Member
    Spain-Spanish
    Badgrammar, I didn't take it as a personal attack. The whole thread is about why some languages feel they need grammatical gender while others don't. :)
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    badgrammar said:
    I certainly look down on no one and on no other language. I have stated that I know that gender in a language allows for certain precisions that you canot make in languages that do not have gender without refering directly back to the subject or object. That you did not understand why is fine. My post to Cnaeius was in no way directed to you. It was a response to his noble efforts to explain how gender functions in this way, and especially his last line "I give up"!

    I am sorry if you took that as some sort of personal attack, it certainly was not meant to be one.
    Considering that the the main discussion on thìs particular example given by Cnaeius was between me and him, him trying to explain and me trying to understand, how would you interpret your comment?

    'Twas a noble battle, mon ami, I understand the long, hard battle may have gotten the best of you, with your well-thought out arguments falling upon deaf ears. Retire secure in the knowledge that you did your best, and I know you were right all along ;) ;)! Surrender, but never capitulate, for your reasoning is most solid...
    And if the deaf ears was not me, then who it was?

    I don't consider it as a personal attack, this word is a little bit too strong, but I did not find it very pleasant...
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    By the way, what does el mapa means? Babelfish gives me map in which case it doesn't come from Greece (anything like "chart" does, but mapa in Greek means cabbage and is also used as slang for face (kind like mug in ugly mug) or to show that something is not really good, it's dissapointing ):) Oh and it's feminine
     

    diegodbs

    Senior Member
    Spain-Spanish
    ireney said:
    By the way, what does el mapa means? Babelfish gives me map in which case it doesn't come from Greece (anything like "chart" does, but mapa in Greek means cabbage and is also used as slang for face (kind like mug in ugly mug) or to show that something is not really good, it's dissapointing ):) Oh and it's feminine
    mapa.(Del b. lat. mappa, toalla, plano de una finca rústica).1. m. Representación geográfica de la Tierra o parte de ella en una superficie plana.
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    It seems that EL MAPA comes from latin, and not Greek...

    Anyway, the rule can be applied to the words that come both from Latin and Greek (old one!:))
    For example, the word EL PROBLEMA comes from LAtin, where it came from Greek....
     

    ireney

    Modistra
    Greek Greece Mod of Greek, CC and CD
    but el is the masculine article isn't it?

    (and I think we have really derailed this conversation by now :) )
     

    jokker

    Senior Member
    Chinese/Taiwan
    TimeHP said:
    I must state beforehand that gender in languages is not a matter of life and death for me. Every language has its own characteristics and I love the varieties of languages.
    I agree with you.:)



    So, it seems they gave in to necessity, didn't they? ;)
    I found the topic of this thread fascinating. Chinese is fascinating. Even though Chinese is my mother tongue, I have to say that there are still lot of it that I don't know. It occured to me this afternoon that 她 has been popular since about 20-25 (my guess) years ago. I remember I was astonished and felt unfamiliar with it the first time seeing people uesd 她 to refer to female. As you said, people created it for necessity of more free to choose and use the word they want to express what they say.
    Anyway the sign 女 is used in lots of words and it is one of the first ideograms.
    Chinese writing forms were created roughly according to six rules/ways, two of them are ideogram and hieroglyphic. 女 is both ideogram and hieroglyphic.

    If anyone would like to learn Chinese, I sincerely suggest that do learn traditional Chinese. Traditional Chinese has been used for thousands of years and was created with certain meanings. All the books had been written in traditional Chinese for hundred and thousand years. My suggest is none of political reasons. I have to say simplified Chinese has lost the original features and meanings in traditional Chinese writing form and only exists for about 50 years.
     

    natasha2000

    Senior Member
    ireney said:
    but el is the masculine article isn't it?

    (and I think we have really derailed this conversation by now :) )
    I was referring to the rule that all nouns ending in A are femenine.
    But, if they come from Latin or Greek, they are (usually?) masculine.
    And yes, we indeeed derailed this discussion with this...:D
     

    Jhorer Brishti

    Senior Member
    United States/Bangladesh English/Bengali
    natasha2000 said:
    I was referring to the rule that all nouns ending in A are femenine.
    But, if they come from Latin or Greek, they are (usually?) masculine.
    And yes, we indeeed derailed this discussion with this...:D
    The great bulk of Spanish words come from Latin so I don't understand why Latin words would have their genders changed(in which case almost all Spanish nouns would be masculine)...

    I had also heard that the only nouns that suffered a "sex change" were nouns that originally derived from Greek(based on an older Latin classification system). Take a look at this page: " http://www.orbilat.com/Languages/Sp...Noun.html#Gender_of_the_nouns_of_Greek_origin "

    Midway, there is a reference to classical latin "declination patterns" from which this simpler treatment of Greek loan words in Spanish derives from..

    Also, Natasha, in English the word is 'feminine' and not 'femenine'..
     

    Residente Calle 13

    Senior Member
    New York City
    Jhorer Brishti said:
    The great bulk of Spanish words come from Latin so I don't understand why Latin words would have their genders changed(in which case almost all Spanish nouns would be masculine)...
    Well, first, since Latin had a neuter nouns and Spanish doesn't all of the neuter Latin nouns had to change.

    Second, some just did. Today we say el puente ('the bridge') but it used to be la puente. In some cases, the gender can go both ways. The following text is in Spanish but I think non-Spanish speakers can make out the gist of it:

    muchas palabras que terminan en a son «masculinas».

    el alerta (la alerta es muy común)
    el caza
    el cometa
    el día
    el gorila (la gorila es popular)
    el guardarropa
    el insecticida
    el mañana (sentido metafórico)
    el mapa
    el mediodía
    el nirvana
    el planeta (la planeta es popular)
    el tranvía
    el tequila
    el vodka
    el yoga

    Muchas de estas terminan en -ma :

    el aroma
    el clima
    el coma
    el diagrama
    el dilema
    el diploma
    el dogma
    el enigma
    el esquema
    el estigma
    el fantasma
    el fonema
    el holograma
    el lema
    el magma
    el miasma
    el panorama
    el pijama (las pillamas en el Caribe)
    el plasma
    el poema
    el problema
    el programa
    el puma
    el síntoma
    el sistema
    el tema
    el trauma

    Sin embargo muchas palabras que terminan en -ma son «femeninas» :

    la alarma
    la amalgama
    la crema
    la chusma
    la broma
    la firma
    la forma
    la gama
    la goma
    la lágrima
    la lima
    la llama
    la calma
    la cama
    la paloma
    la rama
    la rima
    la estima
    la fama
    la loma
    la norma
    la palma
    la sima
    la suma
    la trama
    la yema

    La calor y la color son consideradas rústicas.
    En España y Argentina la chance, pero en muchos países americanos el chance.
    La opus es una cosa y El Opus (Dei) otra.
    El sauna en América y la sauna en España
    En el internet, en la internet y en internet, se dicen.
    El interrogante o la interrogante. Las dos formas se consideran correctas.
    Los lentes en América y las lentes en España
    La mar se usa en el lenguaje poético, de marineros y
    en la meteorología. También hay frases fijas como
    en alta mar y la mar de gente.
    El arte sin embargo existe bellas artes y artes plásticas.
    La bombilla en España y el bombillo en América.
     

    optimistique

    Senior Member
    To return to the point of cases and gender allowing more freedom in word order, Dutch is a language that doesn't have any cases (anymore). Still it is still very keen on changing word order to emphasize certain words. Of course the effect is that sometimes sentences in Dutch can be completely ambiguous if there is no context.

    Example:

    De man doodt de beer (The man kills the bear/It's the man the bear kills)
    De beer doodt de man (The bear kills the man/It's the bear the man kills)

    Of course, the second possibilities are weird if there is no context, but you'll see that in context they'll appear all the time.

    Er zijn gisteren twee mensen door een beer opgegeten. Niet de vrouw maar de man doodde de beer als eerste.

    (Yesterday there were two people eaten by a bear. It was not the woman, but the man the bear killed first).

    Notice that it was necessary to add the first sentence, otherwise it would still be unclear whether the bear was the subject or the object. You just would not know. Still we use these word order variations, since words are placed often first in Dutch when there is a special emphasis on them or when they are the topic of the sentence.
    In German there is no problem doing this because of their cases. I find it really interesting to see how strongly Dutch doesn't want to give this up, while the risk of confusion is so high.




    Also, about the changing of gender. Normally there is no way Native speakers would mix up gender, there is just a certain feel to the words, which makes you know that the other-gender article cannot be combined with that specific word.

    I know, however about a case in Dutch, where the gender is changing, but it is because there are two same words with different gender, and different meaning. The words in question: - het hof (court, I don't know how to describe the exact meaning, can be a term to refer to the royal family (the most important members)) - de hof (dated word for 'garden', still common in certain expressions)

    From the latter is used the 'de hof' in 'doolhof' (labyrinth, literally: 'stray garden'). So it should be "de doolhof". Still, a lot of people (including me) are saying "het doolhof" because this word/gender combination exists, albeit with the wrong meaning, it exists. That may explain gender change within a language, also in other languages? I know examples of other words where a lot of people doubt about the right gender, which have no equivalent with another gender. It is a wierd phenomen, because normally you would NEVER confuse gender. You just don't.
     

    test0012

    New Member
    Chinese
    Pivra said:
    and how do chinese communicate??....(thais are naïve to extreme east cultures lol... seriously.. belief me.... i dont even know how do use chopsticks lol)
    In Chinese, for example, "y?nyuán" means either actor or actress, if you want to say "actor", you say "nán y?nyuán", that's "male y?nyuán", or "female y?nyuán" for actress.

    Traditional Chinese language has no gender, the only he, she, it in modern written language was introduced in early 20th century, but the spoken language is absolutely gender-free (he, she, it all pronouced as "t?").
     

    Residente Calle 13

    Senior Member
    New York City
    test0012 said:
    In Chinese, for example, "y?nyuán" means either actor or actress, if you want to say "actor", you say "nán y?nyuán", that's "male y?nyuán", or "female y?nyuán" for actress.
    In a strange American language called "Politically Correct" Angelina Jolie is "an actor."
     

    Pivra

    Senior Member
    ...
    Residente Calle 13 said:
    In a strange American language called "Politically Correct" Angelina Jolie is "an actor."
    in chinese... what if u wanna say something with more formality and there is ony one 3rd person singular pronoun.... how would i change it.... cuz "it" seems very rude if ur talking about ur emperor politicians are parents....
     

    test0012

    New Member
    Chinese
    Pivra said:
    in chinese... what if u wanna say something with more formality and there is ony one 3rd person singular pronoun.... how would i change it.... cuz "it" seems very rude if ur talking about ur emperor politicians are parents....
    He/she/it or "tā" in spoken Chinese is only a pronoun for general context. For special contexts, such as talking about the emperors, you can use "the emperor ...", there are many words to call the emperor as 3rd person, like "shèngshàng", "huángshàng", "wànsuì", and etc.
     

    Pivra

    Senior Member
    ...
    and how about your parents or someone of a high social status than you... (im thinking of t-v like tú and usted)
     
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