Ibrahim identified three possible useful roles of grammatical gender: . Among these, role 2 is probably the most important in everyday usage.
In the English phrase " a flowerbed in the garden which I maintain " only context tells us whether the relative clause which I maintain refers to the whole garden or just the flowerbed. In German, gender distinction prevents such ambiguity. The word for " flower bed" Beet is neuter, whereas that for "garden" Garten is masculine. Hence, if a neuter relative pronoun is used, the relative clause refers to "bed", and if a masculine pronoun is used, the relative clause refers to "garden".
Because of this, languages with gender distinction can often use pronouns where in English a noun would have to be repeated in order to avoid confusion.
It does not, however, help in cases where the words are of the same grammatical gender. There are often several synonymous nouns of different grammatical gender to pick from to avoid this, however. Moreover, grammatical gender may serve to distinguish homophones. It is a quite common phenomenon in language development for two phonemes to merge, thereby making etymologically distinct words sound alike. In languages with gender distinction, however, these word pairs may still be distinguishable by their gender. Although the idea that language can constrain or significantly impact thought has been largely disregarded by modern linguistics, a number of minor cognitive effects of features including grammatical gender have been consistently demonstrated.
This has been observed for speakers of Spanish, French, and German, among others. Caveats of this research include the possibility of subjects "using grammatical gender as a strategy for performing the task",  and the fact that even for inanimate objects the gender of nouns is not always random.
For example, in Spanish, female gender is often attributed to objects that are "used by women, natural, round, or light" and male gender to objects "used by men, artificial, angular, or heavy. Another kind of test asks people to describe a noun, and attempts to measure whether it takes on gender-specific connotations depending on the speaker's native language.
Grammatical gender is a common phenomenon in the world's languages. Gender and noun class systems are usually found in fusional or agglutinating languages, whereas classifiers are more typical of isolating languages.
Many Indo-European languages , but not English, provide archetypical examples of grammatical gender. Research indicates that the earliest stages of Proto-Indo-European had two genders animate and inanimate , as did Hittite , the earliest attested Indo-European language. The classification of nouns based on animacy and inanimacy and the lack of gender are today characteristic of Armenian. According to the theory, the animate gender, which unlike the inanimate had independent vocative and accusative forms, later split into masculine and feminine, thus originating the three-way classification into masculine, feminine and neuter.
In them, there is a high but not absolute correlation between grammatical gender and declensional class. Many linguists believe that to be true of the middle and late stages of Proto-Indo-European. However, many languages reduced the number of genders to two.
A few traces of the neuter remain, such as the distinct Spanish pronoun ello and Italian nouns with so-called "mobile gender" , as well as Hindustani and the Celtic languages. Others merged feminine and masculine into a common gender but retained the neuter, as in Swedish and Danish and, to some extent, Dutch ; see Gender in Danish and Swedish and Gender in Dutch grammar. Finally, some languages, such as English and Afrikaans , have nearly completely lost grammatical gender retaining only some traces, such as the English pronouns he , she , they , and it — Afrikaans hy , sy , hulle , and dit ; Bengali , Persian , Assamese , Ossetic , Odia , Khowar , and Kalasha have lost it entirely.
On the other hand, some Slavic languages can be argued to have added new genders to the classical three see below. Although grammatical gender was a fully productive inflectional category in Old English , Modern English has a much less pervasive gender system, primarily based on natural gender and reflected essentially in pronouns only.
However, these are relatively insignificant features compared with a typical language with full grammatical gender. English nouns are not generally considered to belong to gender classes in the way that French, German or Russian nouns are. Gender agreement applies in effect only to pronouns, and the choice of pronoun is determined based on semantics perceived qualities of the thing being referred to rather than on any conventional assignment of particular nouns to particular genders.
Only a relatively small number of English nouns have distinct male and female forms; many of them are loanwords from non- Germanic languages the suffixes -ress and -rix in words such as actress and aviatrix , for instance, derive from Latin -rix , in the first case via the French -rice. English has no live productive gender markers. An example of such a marker might be the suffix -ette of French provenance , but this is seldom used today, surviving mostly in either historical contexts or with disparaging or humorous intent.
The gender of an English pronoun typically coincides with the natural gender of its referent, rather than with the grammatical gender of its antecedent. The choice between she , he , they , and it comes down to whether the pronoun is intended to designate a woman, a man, or someone or something else.https://yzavymesyj.cf
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There are certain exceptions, however:. In the past and to some degree still in the present, the masculine has been used as the "default" gender in English. The use of the plural pronoun they with singular reference is common in practice. The neuter it may be used for a baby but not normally for an older child or adult. Other genderless pronouns exist, such as the impersonal pronoun one , but they are not generally substitutable for a personal pronoun.
For more information see Gender-neutral language and Singular they. The Slavic languages mostly continue the Proto-Indo-European system of three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter.
Gender correlates largely with noun endings masculine nouns typically end in a consonant, feminines in -a and neuters in -o or -e but there are many exceptions, particularly in the case of nouns whose stems end in a soft consonant. However, some of the languages, including Russian , Czech , Slovak and Polish , also make certain additional grammatical distinctions between animate and inanimate nouns: Polish in the plural, and Russian in the accusative case, differentiate between human and non-human nouns.
In Russian, the different treatment of animate nouns involves their accusative case and that of adjectives qualifying them being formed identically to the genitive rather than to the nominative. In the singular that applies to masculine nouns only, but in the plural it applies in all genders. See Russian declension. A similar system applies in Czech, but the situation is somewhat different in the plural: Only masculine nouns are affected, and the distinctive feature is a distinct inflective ending for masculine animate nouns in the nominative plural and for adjectives and verbs agreeing with those nouns.
See Czech declension. Polish might be said to distinguish five genders: personal masculine referring to male humans , animate non-personal masculine, inanimate masculine, feminine, and neuter. The animate—inanimate opposition for the masculine gender applies in the singular, and the personal—impersonal opposition, which classes animals along with inanimate objects, applies in the plural. A few nouns denoting inanimate things are treated grammatically as animate and vice versa.
The manifestations of the differences are as follows:.
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A few nouns have both personal and impersonal forms, depending on meaning for example, klient may behave as an impersonal noun when it refers to a client in the computing sense. For more information on the above inflection patterns, see Polish morphology. In the Dravidian languages , nouns are classified primarily on the basis of their semantic properties.
The highest-level classification of nouns is often described as being between "rational" and "nonrational". Within the rational class there are further subdivisions into masculine, feminine and collective nouns. For further information, see Tamil grammar. Many constructed languages have natural gender systems similar to that of English. Animate nouns can have distinct forms reflecting natural gender, and personal pronouns are selected according to natural gender. Some constructed languages have no gender agreement on modifiers. See also Gender-neutrality in languages with grammatical gender: International auxiliary languages and Gender-specific pronoun: Constructed languages.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about grammatical rules of agreement with nouns. For uses of language associated with men and women, see Language and gender. For methods of minimizing the use of gendered forms, see Gender-neutral language. For other uses, see Gender disambiguation.
Main article: Noun classes.
The importance of gendered beliefs
Main article: Noun classifier. See also: List of languages by type of grammatical genders. Main article: Gender in English. The Duden Duden Grammatik , 8. A course in modern linguistics PDF.