Give ne back my hat!

Why do nouns in some languages have a gender

> In Proto-Indo-European (PIE) there was no gender, but instead an inflectional paradigm Indo-Europeanists call a "theme". Every noun and verb had a theme, except for the ones which didn't, which were all highly irregular and are called "athematic". The thematic nouns were likely in a semantically functional animate/inanimate dichotomy.

The theme was the last vowel before the ending of a word. The particular vowel affected which suffix it would take.

Over thousands of years, speakers of various IE language branches began analogizing nouns into classes, sometimes based on gender, this was arbitrary and the categories were formed based on word endings, rather than semantic gender. Originally there was a large variety of nouns in each class. Speakers began slowly forming these into stronger word classes which had more semantic meaning.

https://www.quora.com/How-and-why-did-gender-develop-in-languages

Also
http://whatthefrench.com/ask-a-linguist-why-does-french-have-grammatical-gender/
Permalink , Cup 
May 19th, 2017 3:51pm
"In Proto-Indo-European..."

Bullshit alert. You don't know that. There is not a single sentence, document or utterance of that language in existence.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 4:00pm
I can believe that reconstruction.

The proto-IE grammar has evolved from a Uralic language (on a Caucasian substrate), and Uralic languages (at least Finnish and Hungarian) don't have gender constructs in their grammar.
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 4:11pm
At school, when I had to chose the right gender for a noun in German or French, and I really didn't know, I would look at the regularity in the form of the word. When it contains generic parts, chances are the gender is feminine, when the word looks rather unique, masculine.

That gave better than even odds.
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 4:23pm
> There is not a single sentence, document or utterance of that language in existence.

Yet we know something has existed.

Like when you see two closely related animals, you know there was a common ancestor species, even when you haven't found a fossil (yet).
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 4:25pm
>Bullshit alert. You don't know that. There is not a single sentence, document or utterance of that language in existence.

Oh my, I agree with Idiot!
Permalink Shylock 
May 19th, 2017 4:26pm
The real question is, why doesn't English?
Permalink Shylock 
May 19th, 2017 4:27pm
> Oh my, I agree with Idiot!

You don't think that language development isn't open to a certain level of logical deduction?
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 4:27pm
Maybe, maybe not. Linguistics isn't a science. The fact that languages usually evolve in certain patterns does not mean that they always do.

Free will messes up the scientific method.
Permalink Shylock 
May 19th, 2017 4:31pm
> The real question is, why doesn't English?

They started from a language with already weak gender separation, North Sea Germanic (masc/fem already merged), so they only had to lose the neutral gender.

Dutch is currently slowly losing the neutral gender.
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 4:38pm
> Free will messes up the scientific method.

I don't think grammar is subject to free will.

It is a collective, emerging, property that keeps itself alive, subject to evolution.
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 4:40pm
In a lot of languages nouns are in categories and the categories have different morphological, syntactical, or grammatical treatment.

It is one specific manifestation of this general phenomenon to label the categories male and female and then call this gender.

But noun categories are a much wider phenomenon than any specific kind of label.

With Indo-European, some languages have it others don't, and some linguists claim there's a parent language with this or that feature, usually based on their assumption that their own birth language is the correct one.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 4:45pm
"You don't think that language development isn't open to a certain level of logical deduction?"

No more than cultural development. Lets decide if indo-europeans were cannibals based on the fact that all their descendants have christians that eat the body and blood of another human.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 4:49pm
Language reconstruction is like history, archaeology, palaeontology: the number of data points is limited (but growing), so certain detail will never be cleared up.

But yet the whole of the available data points do paint a picture from which certain conclusions can be drawn with reasonable certainty, or at least probability.

And those pictures can tell very interesting stories.

Some of those stories will be falsified and changed, but at least we have enjoyed them.
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 4:51pm
> Lets decide if indo-europeans were cannibals based on the fact that all their descendants have christians that eat the body and blood of another human.

Falsified.

Sanskrit will not show eating body and blood of another human.

A good analysis will show a link to the Roman Empire, not to proto-IE.
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 5:02pm
> The real question is, why doesn't English

English has mostly but not completely lost it, or maybe in some cases regained it.
Permalink MobyDobie 
May 19th, 2017 5:17pm
Herodotus wrote extensively about the cannibalistic practices of the Indus people.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 5:30pm
Archeological finds from Scythian cultural sites have found widespread practice of human bones mixed in with kitchen refuse and animal bones.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 5:31pm
Strabo wrote that one reason the Irish were subhuman and inferior savages compared to the Bretons was that the Irish were "man eaters".
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 5:32pm
However, British medical practices up through the 19th century including medical cannibalism.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 5:33pm
To this day the Aghori in India practice cannibalism, which is legally tolerated by the government of India due to it being a treasured ancient historical cultural and spiritual practice.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 5:36pm
Aghori cannibalism can been considered by the UN for inclusion in its recognized list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 5:37pm
So, Idiot, why don't you wrap up all of that and condense it into a nice coherent theory, so we can take it apart, or share your conclusions.
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 5:51pm
It should be obvious if you have any sense.

Because multiple branches of Indo-European culture have histories of cannibalism, this means that Proto-Indo-European culture MUST have been cannibalistic as well.

Using your same logic.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 6:05pm
First, specify your examples of cannibalism per language.

I reject Christian ritual in these examples, as we can trace it's origin to specific events not related to proto-IE.
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 6:26pm
Dude you already have enough examples I've given, you don't need more. You can try to debunk my sources, accept them, find your own, or piss the fuck off.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 6:28pm
I have debunked enough of your assertions for today.
Permalink Lotti Fuehrscheim 
May 19th, 2017 6:31pm
How would a theory of language evolution handle, for example, the drastic change in English after the Norman invasion?

And grammar does change all the time. For example, Black English has a somewhat distinct grammar from Standard American; now, some of the Black English grammar is making its way into Standard English.

Any theory of language evolution would have to handle discontinuties.
Permalink Shylock 
May 19th, 2017 7:32pm
There's been some pretty good linguistic arguments that AAVE is english vocabulary with french grammar.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 7:39pm
I'd note though that there are at least dozens of distinguishable dialects of AAVE and they clearly don't come from a common source.

The stereotypical southern AAVE is also spoken by whites in the same region and is for the most part descended from older british english spoken by early settlers to those regions.
Permalink Pestular Croaker 
May 19th, 2017 7:41pm
> How would a theory of language evolution handle, for example, the drastic change in English after the Norman invasion?

lol. I'm currently translating Law French to English.
Permalink , Cup 
May 19th, 2017 9:27pm
When comedians mock the way Hungarians speak Romanian, they always bring up gender mismatch in declinations. Declinations suck, I hated the rote learning of French and German irregulars.
Permalink Io 
May 20th, 2017 12:37pm
I dunno where I read an observation common to all people and referring to how you're perceived as a foreigner speaking some other people's native language.

At the beginning when you struggle with several hundred words, make a complete mess of conjugations, articles, in a horrific Elbonian accent,  you're actually receiving tons of sympathy. People smile kindly at you end everyone  waits and patiently helps you to babble sentences.

But when you're actually good at it, you speak thousands to tens of thousands of words, chances are you're cut down mercilessly for failing to properly make some gender-article conjugation or have traces of a funny accent in your almost-native speech.
Permalink Io 
May 20th, 2017 12:53pm
Gender in languages is a way of categorizing things that get embedded in grammatical rules. Lakoff wrote about this in a book called "Women, Fire and Dangerous Things".
https://www.amazon.com/Women-Fire-Dangerous-Things-Categories/dp/0226468046
Permalink Pie is a lot better than ... 
May 20th, 2017 1:00pm

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