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[SOLVED] Do people often make mistakes with gender of nouns?

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Senior Member LoupSolo
Joined: 13.11.2018
Pending moderation

I live in an English-speaking country and I've never been to a Francophone country. I only get into French mode when at LT and when watching videos, studying French, etc.
My question is, do native French speakers sometimes have a hard time getting the gender of a noun right?
For example I just heard 'le' conscience instead of 'la'.

Moderator sapiens sapiens
Joined: 05.04.2012

Gender is a confusing system for non-native or non-fluent speakers. I'm studying it for my specialization degree (which is on Romance philology and why Romance languages currently don't have the neutral). Not to mention that there are discrepancies in this very language family: 'água' is feminine in Portuguese and Italian, for instance, but it's masculine in Spanish. And that's one of the reasons I don't usually translate into sisters of Portuguese.

From what I read, the attribution of gender is somewhat confusing and has no actual grounds to happen. It's just rational or logical...

If I were to change it, I'd propose a very simpler system. Like: nouns used for animate things have a gender, inanimate beings have another one. I guess it would be simpler and avoid confusion.

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

In languages that have grammatical genders, native speakers simply know ‘by heart’ what gender any noun is. It can happen that one doesn’t know the grammatical of a rare word, because one doesn’t know the word itself. Otherwise, it’s something natural for natives because they have learnt the language growing up.
Errors may happen, just like for anything else. Someone may say le instead of la while having a conversation, but it will go unnotice because it’s not important for communicating. The same happens in any language, for example English, when someone starts a sentence saying, ‘I sended... sent her the thing she asked for the other day, you know.’ This is simply because we aren’t machines.

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

From the things I remember having read about Proto-Indo-European (the mother languages of most European languages), I think it had a system based of animacy: nouns were divided into animate beings and inanimate things. That system evolved over time to become the three-gender system (masculine, feminine, neuter) of many Indo-European languages, such as Latin. Interesting, isn’t it?

Super Member
Joined: 24.04.2016

In the german language as in Latin there are three genders der (ein), die (eine) das (ein), I agree with Aiona that will be learned by heart by learning the "mother language". There are regulary no mistakes. But it kann happen by foreign influences that in some region one uses in slang verbal communication a gender from the foreign language (example in the south-west by french influence der Butter (le beurre) instead of die Butter)

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Joined: 15.02.2013
Alma Barroca wrote:

Gender is a confusing system for non-native or non-fluent speakers. I'm studying it for my specialization degree (which is on Romance philology and why Romance languages currently don't have the neutral). Not to mention that there are discrepancies in this very language family: 'água' is feminine in Portuguese and Italian, for instance, but it's masculine in Spanish. And that's one of the reasons I don't usually translate into sisters of Portuguese.

From what I read, the attribution of gender is somewhat confusing and has no actual grounds to happen. It's just rational or logical...

If I were to change it, I'd propose a very simpler system. Like: nouns used for animate things have a gender, inanimate beings have another one. I guess it would be simpler and avoid confusion.

Gracias, Juan, por tu comentario pero, déjame decirte que, en español, "agua" es femenino. En singular, lleva el artículo "el" porque "la" termina en "a", así como la palabra empieza con "a": "el agua" / "El agua clara", (mira el adjetivo). En plural sería, "las aguas".

Editor in search of Anningan & Malina
Joined: 10.05.2012

Many linguists (mainly those whose native language is English) seem to hate the concept of gender in languages. I heard every kind of crazy theory: some say it gives you a bias when talking about object, so that a key, la clé, would be described as smooth, shiny and golden in contrast to a more "masculine" way that would describe a key as being strong and heavy, whilst others say it's just sexist and an unfair way of categorising the world. This is not linguistics, I'd rather call it linguistics-fiction.
For someone who grew up with a language that has a gender system, be it French, German, Russian or whatever, using the right gender for the right word is just automatic. Personally, when I'm learning a language, a gender system makes me more aware of what sounds right and what doesn't. People would instantly know, if you used the wrong gender, because it sounds off, but would never think about which gender they need to use, it's really automatic. Obviously, everyone makes mistakes, but that counts also for native speakers. Some words also might be quite ambiguous: maybe they have a feminine ending, but are masculine or may be feminine in their singular form and masculine in the plural.
Indo-europeans indeed had an animacy vs inanimacy gender system. The inanimate gender later became the neuter gender and the animate gender split into masculine and feminine. In the Romance languages, the neuter gender was lost (I can't recall, if Romanian still has it. Maybe someone can confirm it?): words that were feminine and masculine in Latin kept their gender in the Romance languages (for the most part), whilst the neuter gender developed independently in the various languages.
Gender does not mean sex. There are gender systems in the world that have nothing to do with sex. Many have an animacy vs inanimacy system, others have different categories for plants, animals, humans, objects, divinities, elements and honestly you could go on like that forever. Some scholars question the usefulness of such systems, but it actually gives you a good hint on how people see the world and how they think it needs to be categorised. A culture that is more human-oriented would obviously develop a sex-based gender system, for instance.

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Joined: 10.07.2011
Ainoa wrote:

From the things I remember having read about Proto-Indo-European (the mother languages of most European languages), I think it had a system based of animacy: nouns were divided into animate beings and inanimate things. That system evolved over time to become the three-gender system (masculine, feminine, neuter) of many Indo-European languages, such as Latin. Interesting, isn’t it?

You are right, it is pretty interesting, and reasonable at the same time. I learnt about it one week ago thanks to a French Youtuber (linguisticae for reference). By the way, if Japanese had gender system, I am undoubtedly sure it would use that system (verbs like 'aru' and 'iru', depending respectively if the subject is inanimate or not, make me think so).

Moderator of Romance Languages
Joined: 31.03.2012

Zapotec doesn't differentiate between genders, the word for "him" and for "her" are the same:

Him/her (person) = Laabe
Him/her (animal) Laame
Him/her (objects that are feminine or masculine like in Spanish ex: LA mesa, El telefono, LA silla, La calle, EL cuarto) = Laani
Him/her (a special term for the divine and the dead) = Laani'

Just some random information I wanted to share that I found interesting.

Junior Member
Joined: 17.09.2018

In German, it can be nightmarish if you go beyond more common, native nouns. Even for native speakers. There seem to be those words, particularly loan words, where two genders if not all three genders are acceptable, but one is preferred. This is not a case of the meaning changing when the gender does, such as say with the French le livre (book) and la livre (pound). If you look up app, you seriously get "die, auch das, selten der". I've been saying "das" and think that the preferred from, which they list first, sounds odd. Yet other people prefer another and technically, none of them are wrong. Though that doesn't stop people having a big fight about it. There are sites for native Germans devoted to telling them which gender is preferable, and which is merely acceptable, for certain nouns.

I found a surprising number of words where I've been using the non preferred form (which is sometimes even listed as being rare...and I still do this because it's too ingrained and since it's not incorrect, I cannot be bothered to force myself to say "Das Hotdog") my whole life and thought that it was the correct one. And it took me 25 years to even figure out that this was even a thing. I just learned about it because I got in the middle of one of those "is it das, der or die app" fights and looked it up.

I'm also having trouble with French loan words. With the native words, you just accept that there is little logic to it. They have been this way for hundreds of years. But loan words entered the language at a point where we had some control over assigning a logical gender. So it can be very irritating when une interview is feminine, even though the original French word for this is masculine and interview doesn't have what would be considered a predominantly feminine ending in French. It just makes no sense! And "Der Lunch" drives me crazy because English nouns don't have genders and Mittagessen, which means lunch, is neuter in German so my head keeps telling me that it should be neuter.

In short, loan words are just the worst.

Super Member
Joined: 21.10.2018

In some cultures, it is considered rude to call something "it" even though it is a genderless object.

And that is EXACTLY why I struggle with the German language! Because I am female it can be VERY difficult to find the proper gender words for me! Ugh!

In some languages if something is already genderless (let's say a talking robot), it would be given a gender which would typically be based on it's looks or their "original" voice.

Super Member
Joined: 16.12.2017

Don’t mess with Russians. We have 6 cases, on top of the gender thingy Regular smile
And “it”can be offensive Teeth smile

Super Member
Joined: 21.10.2018

Sadly for me, in the part of the United States of America that I live in, Latino Spanish is becoming more and more common (don't get me wrong I'm happy to see that but for me mentally.... It just adds to the confusion) so as a result I have been trying to learn and understand Spanish a bit better. It can also be difficult to make an advertisement in Spanish (like a written advertisement) that could please both genders 😂

Very true I mean with the word "it"

Moderator
Joined: 06.10.2016

This is actually a really interesting topic.

In Hebrew, for example, everything is either male or female. There is no "it" (or a third gender). We actually took the "it" from the Brits during the British Mandate period (1917-1948) since all of their documents needed to be translated and at the time, the Hebrew language was still being revived (and is still evolving to this day).

It's pretty funny, if someone is unsure whether something should be male or female, we just count it (One table; Two tables), and it just comes naturally. So if a foreigner or a Hebrew learner tries to speak it, they usually mix it up and we can tell they aren't native right away. Other than the accent, of course.

Some words can be either male or female, such as "knife (sakin | סכין)" or "face (panim | פנים)". Other words can be male in singular, and have a "feminine" ending when in plural, such as "window (khalon | חלון); windows (khalonot | חלונות)" or "curtain (vilon | וילון); curtains (vilonot | וילונות)". Or the opposite, where words can be female in singular and have a "masculine" ending when in plural, such as "ant (nemala | נמלה); ants (nemalim | נמלים)" or "word (mila | מילה); words (milim | מילים)".

Even numbers are a hassle! For males you say; "One (ekhad | אחד), two (shnayim | שניים), three (shlosha | שלושה), four (arba'ah | ארבעה), five (khamisha | חמישה)" and so on. For females you say; "One (akhat | אחת), two (shtayim | שתיים), three (shalosh | שלוש), four (arba | ארבע), five (khamesh | חמש)".

This was fun, I love teaching lol.

Super Member
Joined: 11.08.2015

But I find it easier that we don't have pronouns, and you usually can tell the gender of a noun by its ending. Although I'm still not sure if coffee is "he" or "it". Regular smile

And doesn't Finnish have somewhere in the area of fifteen cases?

Super Member
Joined: 21.10.2018

I have recently learned that where I live some people are of one gender but they ask or want to be referred as the other gender. And for somebody who is what is called "transitioning" from one gender to the other calling them "an it" is EXTREMELY offensive! But they would be called "an it" because somebody was not sure what their gender was or what their gender is now. And yes I am talking about the English language. For me, the safest way around the problem of not being sure what someone's gender is, is by calling them or referring to them as "them" or "they" or some form like that. Sure it sounds plural and maybe even improper to some other people but it's better than walking up to them and saying "hi! I just met you! And this is crazy! But here's my number! So tell me your gender, maybe?"

Super Member
Joined: 21.10.2018

I noticed that too with the numbers I mean! I was in Sunday school class in church when I was younger, and the person in charge wanted to teach us some Hebrew starting with the numbers in Hebrew..... The teacher didn't make it past the number 3 because of the different gender or ways to say the number and all of the kids in the class were under the age of 10 at the time 😂😂

Super Member
Joined: 21.10.2018

Probably

Moderator
Joined: 06.10.2016

That's what I do if I don't know someone's gender over the internet. Just refer to them as "they". If I really want to know, I just ask them Regular smile

Super Member
Joined: 21.10.2018

Me too!

Editor in search of Anningan & Malina
Joined: 10.05.2012
OpalMoon wrote:

And doesn't Finnish have somewhere in the area of fifteen cases?

15 cases and NO gender whatsoever. "Hän" is both "he" and "she".

Super Member
Joined: 16.12.2017

I think they changed “coffee”’s gender In Russian. It is ok to call it it, I believe.
But I still prefer чёрный. Regular smile

Super Member
Joined: 07.01.2019
Preslynn wrote:

In German, it can be nightmarish if you go beyond more common, native nouns. Even for native speakers.

Well, that's a relief, because as a non-native speaker this is my biggest challenge with the language. German is an extremely logical language in every way except when it comes to the gender of words. And the problem is that without knowing the gender, I really can't use a word at all. Without knowing the definite article, I can't properly decline adjectives. I can't say "the, a, some, many, all, none," etc. Literally every single thing I say about that word will be incorrect.

And since many definite articles are reused, I often get words wrong because I have heard or seen them a certain way and have that stuck in my head. So I'll memorize something as masculine and use "der," but maybe it was a feminine noun that was in the genitive case in the particular instance where I saw it, so I've been using it wrong the whole time.

Then again, it does really help the language be quite specific and precise. There are many instances where the meaning of something is succinct and clear, when clarification would be needed for that same thing said in English.

Editor .
Joined: 09.10.2018

Russian also retained some animate/inanimate distinction: the direct object complement uses accusative for inanimate objects and genitive for animate objects.
French has no notion of neutral as such, but there are some traces of neutral left in pronouns (an equivalent for "it").

French feminine nouns very often end in "e". There are quite a few exceptions, but that's a good rule of thumb when you don't know a word. Similarly, most of Russian nouns will end in "a" when feminine and "o" when neutral.
German nouns have no gender distinctive features. That's one of the things I found difficult while learning the language.

A few French nouns (about 20) can be both masculine and feminine, sometimes with markedly different meanings
For instance, "faune" is a faun (the mythical creature) when masculine, and fauna (wildlife) when feminine, "solde" is the pay of the military or a discount, "voile" is either a veil or a sail...

But, as other people said, a native speaker will simply know by heart the gender of every noun. Using the wrong gender would be a slip of the tongue, like botching an irregular verb in English.

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

Finnish does have 15 – you can add one or two depending on what you consider a grammatical case – but there is no gender whatsoever, not for noun, not for pronouns. Declension is far easier than in other languages because it doesn't depend on what grammatical gender a given noun is, whereas in Slavic languages or in Latin, you have to know the grammatical gender of a noun to know how to inflect it. Many people say Finnish is the hardest language to learn simply or mainly because it has fifteen cases, but it's actually far from reality in my opinion. Finnish grammar is very regular and not based on too many arbitrary things (like grammatical gender).

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

Sorry to nitpick, but this is an occasion to say that it’s important to distinguish between masculine, feminine and neuter genders, and males and females. Usually, grammatical genders don’t have anything to do with sex (male, female).

A good example is the French noun victime (which obviously means ‘victim’) that is feminine (no matter what) and can refer to either a male or a female (person).
Also, when referring to the victim, or more exactly to the noun victime, the feminine pronoun elle is used whilst in English you have to refer to the sex of the person being mentioned as a victim.
English pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ refer to the sex of the person mentioned.
French pronouns ‘il’ and ‘elle’ refer to the grammatical gender of the noun they replace.

Editor .
Joined: 09.10.2018

Along the same line, French possessive pronouns (or determinants) refer to the thing possessed and agree with its gender, while English ones refer to the sex of the possessor.

il sort de *sa* voiture (feminine possession) et monte dans *son* camion (masculine possession) -> he gets out of *his* car and gets in *his* truck (male possessor)

As Ainoa said, feminine words are routinely used to designate male people. The French equivalent of "person" is feminine, for instance. To be fair, the contrary is more frequent.

There is a distinction between masculine and feminine in plural, but for a collection of mixed-gender nouns you will use masculine. Feminine plural will only be used if all the nouns are feminine. This "masculine dominance" is viewed by some as male chauvinism ingrained in the language Regular smile

Of course there are still hot debates about all the nouns designating persons (like professions) which can have masculine or feminine genders. For instance "pompier" (fireman) has no feminine equivalent, which can be viewed as intrinsically sexist. Some argue you should create a new word "pompière" (firewoman) or add new syntax rules to automatically provide feminine variants to male chauvinist job names.

The political correctness zealots came up with very elaborate schemes, especially a godawful "gender correct" notation where you're supposed to blend the masculine and feminine variants of "gender sensitive" nouns using dots. For instance combine "citoyen" and "citoyenne" (male and female versions of "citizen") into "citoyen.ne" (singular) or "citoyen.ne.s" (plural).
Of course that applies to pronouns and articles too, so "a citizen" would become the eye-watering "un.e citoyen.ne".

Some people actually use that system, so you might occasionally stumble upon a post full of weird dots. It has not made it into official French syntax though.

Moderator of Romance Languages
Joined: 31.03.2012

We do have a term for a third gender called a "muxe" and "biza'ah" in another. They use neither feminine or masculine pronouns, it's not even "they", I'm having a hard time describing it. It's like if there was another word besides "him", "her" where it's not plural like "they/them" but singular (but not "it"). Some more info on that here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_gender#Latin_America_and_the_Caribbean

Super Member
Joined: 24.04.2016

"Along the same line, French possessive pronouns (or determinants) refer to the thing possessed and agree with its gender, while English ones refer to the sex of the possessor".(ingirumimusnocte)
Like English, so German. And I have some problems with the french kind of thinking.

Junior Member
Joined: 17.09.2018
ingirumimusnocte wrote:

There is a distinction between masculine and feminine in plural, but for a collection of mixed-gender nouns you will use masculine. Feminine plural will only be used if all the nouns are feminine. This "masculine dominance" is viewed by some as male chauvinism ingrained in the language Regular smile
.

I have to admit that at times, this does bother me. Like when you have a group of 99 women and one man and you're supposed to call them ils, because that one darn man overrides all those women.

I actually did come across the word pompière, so I guess some people took it upon themselves to create it already. I'm glad to hear that French people don't actually use weird nouns like "doctoresse" (which I was scolded for NOT using when referring to a female doctor once...must have been a zealot)

Editor .
Joined: 09.10.2018

I confess I don't really know which of these job names are official and which aren't Regular smile

Moderator sapiens sapiens
Joined: 05.04.2012

Hola, Rosa, gracias por tu comentario.

See, I should get back on my Spanish studies soon. I had no classes of noun-gendering during my high school Spanish classes, so I didn't know that some words where 'el' is used are actually feminine. Live and learn, as they say Wink smile

Moderator sapiens sapiens
Joined: 05.04.2012

Just for you to understand how confusing this is. In Portuguese there are only two genders: masculine and feminine. Grammar (and primary teachers) say that words that end in 'o' are masculine and words that end in 'a' are feminine. But there are words that do not fit these two, like 'estante' (bookshelf), 'tênis' (tennis shoe), 'trem' (train) 'fênix' (phoenix). It's very confusing for a non-native to master all these rules and specifications, though native know it by heart, as Ainoa said. As I don't speak any non-Romance language, I don't know if it's hard in others, but I guess that in my language family the system is pretty much the same.

I read a grammar say that masculines are words before which you could add the article 'o', feminines being those before which you could add 'a'. It's simpler and less confusing but, still, not the best option, IMHO.

If you're interested, I can share my monography with you, but first I'd have to translate it as it's not in English. Or maybe, I could just list some info I've gathered all along.

Editor in search of Anningan & Malina
Joined: 10.05.2012
phantasmagoria wrote:

We do have a term for a third gender called a "muxe" and "biza'ah" in another. They use neither feminine or masculine pronouns, it's not even "they", I'm having a hard time describing it. It's like if there was another word besides "him", "her" where it's not plural like "they/them" but singular (but not "it"). Some more info on that here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_gender#Latin_America_and_the_Caribbean

I think this fits in the concept of "two-spirited" people present in much of the Amerindian cultures. I heard about it in the Inuit and Chukchi cultures where they are traditionally considered to be the most powerful of shamans.

Super Member
Joined: 24.04.2016
Alma Barroca wrote:

Just for you to understand how confusing this is. In Portuguese there are only two genders: masculine and feminine. Grammar (and primary teachers) say that words that end in 'o' are masculine and words that end in 'a' are feminine. But there are words that do not fit these two, like 'estante' (bookshelf), 'tênis' (tennis shoe), 'trem' (train) 'fênix' (phoenix). It's very confusing for a non-native to master all these rules and specifications, though native know it by heart, as Ainoa said. As I don't speak any non-Romance language, I don't know if it's hard in others, but I guess that in my language family the system is pretty much the same.

This is not a typical characteristic only for portuguese. I don't know any languague where one can be sure about the gender only be the ending of a noun.

Editor in search of Anningan & Malina
Joined: 10.05.2012
Alma Barroca wrote:

Just for you to understand how confusing this is. In Portuguese there are only two genders: masculine and feminine. Grammar (and primary teachers) say that words that end in 'o' are masculine and words that end in 'a' are feminine. But there are words that do not fit these two, like 'estante' (bookshelf), 'tênis' (tennis shoe), 'trem' (train) 'fênix' (phoenix). It's very confusing for a non-native to master all these rules and specifications, though native know it by heart, as Ainoa said. As I don't speak any non-Romance language, I don't know if it's hard in others, but I guess that in my language family the system is pretty much the same.

I guess it's simpler in Italian. Words that end in -o are masculine, words that end in -a are feminine, words that end in -e can take either one or the other gender, words ending in -i (of Greek origins and most are very specific terms) are always feminine. Obviously there are exceptions, but if you remember this, you can pretty much manage to get it right 80% of the times. The tricky part is figuring out the gender of loanwords: because no native noun end in a consonant, the Italian grammar pretty much doesn't know how to handle them. Most of the times they preserve the gender they had in their original language, but it gets trickier with languages that have no gender.

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Joined: 27.03.2015
Natur Provence wrote:
Alma Barroca wrote:

Just for you to understand how confusing this is. In Portuguese there are only two genders: masculine and feminine. Grammar (and primary teachers) say that words that end in 'o' are masculine and words that end in 'a' are feminine. But there are words that do not fit these two, like 'estante' (bookshelf), 'tênis' (tennis shoe), 'trem' (train) 'fênix' (phoenix). It's very confusing for a non-native to master all these rules and specifications, though native know it by heart, as Ainoa said. As I don't speak any non-Romance language, I don't know if it's hard in others, but I guess that in my language family the system is pretty much the same.

This is not a typical characteristic only for portuguese. I don't know any languague where one can be sure about the gender only be the ending of a noun.

The same in Italy.To give you an idea about such confusion could carry the habit of considering all what ends in "o/i" as male and what ends in "a/e" as feminine nouns: in the most popular speech in Italy, " la radio"( radio-set, s.f.) becomes "l'aradio"(s.m.);"le analisi" (the analysis, s,f) becomes "gli analisi", and so on...

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Joined: 24.04.2016

In Italian it is not simplier as you wrote but perhaps more regular with a rule -o = masculine and -a = femine. But words ending otherwise, you have to know it.

Moderator
Joined: 15.02.2013
Alma Barroca wrote:

Hola, Rosa, gracias por tu comentario.

See, I should get back on my Spanish studies soon. I had no classes of noun-gendering during my high school Spanish classes, so I didn't know that some words where 'el' is used are actually feminine. Live and learn, as they say Wink smile

So they say, and we try to follow..

Moderator and earthbound misfit
Joined: 05.04.2013
Alma Barroca wrote:

I'm studying it for my specialization degree (which is on Romance philology and why Romance languages currently don't have the neutral).

So @Alma Barroca, can you solve this doubt that's been haunting me for years? Why don't Romance languages have neutrum, when Latin did have it? I've been wondering for so long

Moderator — I need to watch you go!
Joined: 10.07.2011
Icey wrote:
Alma Barroca wrote:

I'm studying it for my specialization degree (which is on Romance philology and why Romance languages currently don't have the neutral).

So @Alma Barroca, can you solve this doubt that's been haunting me for years? Why don't Romance languages have neutrum, when Latin did have it? I've been wondering for so long

Isn't that because Romance languages share their features with Vulgar Latin, which, as far as I know, doesn't include Neuter gender anymore, compared to Classical Latin? It could also be due to a non-Indo-European substrate that would have influenced that choice. My knowledge is not extensive enough to provide a 100% accurate answer though.

Editor .
Joined: 09.10.2018

I'm curious about that too. I wonder if the expansion and decline of the Roman Empire had a significant part in it. I suppose the language tended to lose non-essential features when more and more people had to replace their mother's tongue with it?

Super Member
Joined: 01.07.2018

To come back to the initial question, I think it's just impossible for a normal French locutor to say "le conscience" instead of "la conscience".
And besides questions about gender and case, don't forget that some languages also use noun classes. They might sound more or less logical. In an Australian aborigene language for example, there is a class for Women, Fire and Dangerous Things Regular smile
 

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

To be precise and fair, the German kind of thinking is a mixture of the English one and the French one.
One has to know the grammatical gender of the noun referring to what is possessed , and then the gender of the noun referring to the possessor when using possessive determiners (my, your, his, etc.) and possessive pronouns (mine, yours, his, etc.).

eine Frau hat einen Sohn (a woman has a son) = ihr Sohn (her son, the noun Frau is feminine and the noun Sohn is masculine).
eine Lehrerin hat eine Blume (a [female] teacher has a flower) = ihre Blume (her flower, the noun Lehrerin is feminine and the noun Blume is feminine).
ein Haus hat ein Dach (a house has a roof) = sein Dach (its roof, the noun Haus is neuter and the noun Dach is neuter).

And to make things worse, sein is used for both a masculine and a neuter possessor and ihr is used for several possessor...
It took me some time to get used to it.

Super Member
Joined: 24.04.2016

How would you explain that just the germans (Germani) who were a major reason for the decline, have the three genders? The one will take them and the other who speaks a roman language will leave them?

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

A French native speaker may say le conscience (instead of the correct la) because he or she is not a flawless machine, but he or she will know / achknowledge it. In a conversation, people will usually let it slide, because in the end, it’s not very important and everyone makes mistakes while speaking / using a language live.

Editor .
Joined: 09.10.2018

Well Rome was in contact with about all the languages spoken around the Mediterranean, while Germans only had to cope with the Romans Regular smile
It's just a wild guess though, I suppose philologists must have sounder explanations.

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

Languages evolve and get simpler over time naturally. French has lost / is losing some tenses (imperfect subjunctive and pluperfect subjunctive) even without a decline of their civilization, but simply because speakers realised that they coulld convey the same meaning in their sentences without those tenses.

In the case of Latin, the big language conversion within the Empire certainly played a part in the simplification of the system.

Side note: Romanian (the always forgotten Romance language) is very conservative and still has the neuter gender and a case system.

Super Member
Joined: 24.04.2016
Ainoa wrote:

To be precise and fair, the German kind of thinking is a mixture of the English one and the French one..

Surely not, all three languages are influenced by the roman and the english comes from a german dialect spoken in the north.
The name of the English says until today by whom they were conquered.: Angelsachsen (Sachsen are a tribe in Germany)

Super Member
Joined: 01.07.2018
Ainoa wrote:

A French native speaker may say le conscience (instead of the correct la) because he or she is not a flawless machine, but he or she will know / achknowledge it. In a conversation, people will usually let it slide, because in the end, it’s not very important and everyone makes mistakes while speaking / using a language live.

It's just instinctive, never in my life have I heard anything like that, except perhaps in the case of a foreigner talking. Of course everybody can make a flaw, but then it could be in just any sentence, I could say for example "le chot" instead of "le chat", it's just a misspoke, it has nothing to do with gender.

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

What I meant is that the way possessive determiners and pronouns work in German is a mix of the English way (sex of the possessor) and the French one (gender of the noun of the possessed thing).
I wasn't saying that German is a mixture of French and English as a language...

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