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Why Inanimate Objects Have Gender In Some Languages?

Discussion in 'Education & Personal Growth' started by Rihana, Dec 29, 2020.

  1. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    Just a light thread…

    In many languages other than English, a grammatical gender is assigned to inanimate objects.

    Grammatical gender is a way of categorizing nouns. Languages have different ways of assigning gender to nouns. Some go by the real or perceived physical appearance, some categorize based on the ending sound of the noun.

    Here’s what Mark Twain said about German:

    "A person’s mouth, neck, bosom, elbows, fingers, nails, feet, and body are of the male sex, and his head is male or neuter according to the word selected to signify it, and not according to the sex of the individual who wears it! A person’s nose, lips, shoulders, breast, hands, and toes are of the female sex; and his hair, ears, eyes, chin, legs, knees, heart, and conscience haven’t any sex at all…"

    In Hindi:
    Masculine: bulb, computer, bed (bistar), cloth (kapda), food (khana), house (ghar), water (paani)
    Feminine: Matches (maachis), wall (deevar), gun (bandook), trousers (pent, pataloon), air (hawa).

    Looks like other Indian languages are about evenly distributed - some assign the masculine or feminine gender to inanimate things and others use a neutral gender.
    .
     
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  2. Rihana

    Rihana IL Hall of Fame

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    When my Hindi-speaking friend married a Telugu guy, in the throes of young love and the oft-misguided desire to get to know the in-laws better, : ) she tried to learn Telugu. She was not amused to discover that in Telugu all animals and inanimate objects are assigned the feminine gender.

    avu vaccindi cow has come/cow came
    eddu vaccindi ox has come/ox came
    Āmey vaccindi she has come

    I still :lol: when I recall her outrage.
     
  3. Thyagarajan

    Thyagarajan IL Hall of Fame

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    :hello:My dad used to ask this question- why Queen Elizabeth bottom is always wet?
    The answer is ...
    “ becoz she sails on the sea”.
    Note ship and any other thing that carries ( including ladies) are feminine. Aircraft is also feminine’s not because she takes off or touch down but because she carries.
    In Telugu and Hindi , it is attributed to grammar of that language.
    But we are seeing girls endearingly addressed in masculine & vice versa.
    In Hindi they used to call in endearment “ hare- oouullu ka pattay” here what is the gender of “oouullu”?
     
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  4. Hopikrishnan

    Hopikrishnan Gold IL'ite

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    el ordenador is a computer, and so is la computadora. No differences in how they are plugged to electricity - pins or sockets :grinning:.
    El is the definite article marker for a male whatever, and La is the female definite article ("the" in English).

    However, there is "el Hombre de la Gente", meaning "the man of the people". My guess is that the gender is determined how the sound flows out. As a rule for spanish learners one might say that nouns ending with consonants are male, and those ending with vowels are female. La mesa, la ventana, la puerta (table, window and door). However there are always exceptions, like el baño (the bathroom), el programa.

    I have also noticed that the gender fetished languages also get adjectives change genders with the nouns they describe. Un Hombre guapo would become una mujer guapa -- guapo vs. guapa to refer to a man or a woman. Hindi does the same thing.
     
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  5. Deepsmara

    Deepsmara Bronze IL'ite

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    So around few months back I took French classes. Thought I'll learn something new and was surprised to see that even in French gender is assigned to the objects. I thought this problem was there only in Hindi :facepalm:
     
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  6. Hopikrishnan

    Hopikrishnan Gold IL'ite

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    Many languages use gender for objects. Sometimes, the same object would be a male in one language, but female in another. This can be tough when the native speaker of one language is learning the other one. I found a psychology journal article with some examples:
    Can grammatical gender influence speakers’ cognitive processes when they’re speaking another language entirely?

    In 2002, researchers set out to answer that question. They created a list of 24 objects that have opposite genders in Spanish and German; in each language, half of the objects were masculine and half were feminine. Speaking English and using materials written in English, the researchers asked a group of native Spanish speakers and a group of native German speakers —all of whom were proficient in English— to generate three adjectives for each item on the list.

    Across the board, object gender influenced the participants’ judgments. For example, the word “key” is masculine in German and feminine in Spanish. German speakers in the study tended to describe keys as hard, heavy, jagged, metal, and useful. Spanish speakers, on the other hand, used words such as golden, intricate, little, lovely, and tiny when describing keys. The word “bridge” is feminine in German and masculine in Spanish. Sure enough, German speakers described bridges as beautiful, elegant, fragile, pretty, and slender, while Spanish speakers said they were big, dangerous, strong, sturdy, and towering.
    That got me to wonder about Spanish words.... el Colegio versus la Universidad :confundio1: No wonder we need/have gender reveal parties, and some go on to create huge forest fires.:frown::facepalm:
     

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