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

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Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

Well, the mistakes and errors that you mentions can also pertain to grammatical gender. Just like someone pronounces a word incorrectly, someone may use the wrong gender for a word... it happens all the time and isn’t important at all.

Super Member
Joined: 01.07.2018

And English was influenced by the French too (Normans), that's why there are often two different words in English for close concepts (calf / veal, etc ; in that case there has been a specialization later).

Super Member
Joined: 01.07.2018

The Norwegians (Germanic language) have only 2 genders by now, at least as far as the bokmål is concerned : common gender # neuter. They used to have 3 earlier, and there still are remains of it in "nynorsk" ("en jente" in bokmål, "ei jenta" in nynorsk, = a girl).

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

As far as I know, the word doctoresse is very old-fashioned. It’s apparently more widespread in Switzerland. The common feminine equivalent for docteur is either une docteur, une docteure (the one I use) or un docteur.

The word pompière actually exists, but it’s not very widespread. I wouldn’t mind hearing it / using it at all.

Super Member
Joined: 01.07.2018

In Latin : agricola, nauta, poeta, incola (=inhabitant)... are masculine.

Senior Member LoupSolo
Joined: 13.11.2018

I'm really learning a lot from this discussion.
The gender system in French is one aspect of the language that deters many from learning it.
My country is surrounded by 3 Francophone countries yet people see no use at all for studying French. It is regarded as complex and boring, and in fact, difficult people are sometimes referred to as 'French'.

Recently I was in a French class (basic French for communication as part of my program of study at the university) and people were surprised and amused to learn that 'sein' and 'vagin' were actually masculine words when to them they should 'obviously' have been feminine.

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

Sein and vagin, basic French for communication. [Amused face / Dubious face] Regular smile

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

Another example of the fact that grammatical genders have nothing to do with sexes.

Editor in search of Anningan & Malina
Joined: 10.05.2012
Icey a écrit :
Alma Barroca a écrit :

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

As far as I know, the neuter gender wasn't used very often and in many cases in Vulgar Latin it merged with the masculine gender.

Super Member
Joined: 01.07.2018

Imagine if you knew how we usually call the "penis"...

Editor .
Joined: 09.10.2018

A promising young artist made an extensive and comprehensive use of the word.
You'll have to sign into Youtube to listen to this masterpiece though.
At any rate, its a feminine word.

Moderator sapiens sapiens
Joined: 05.04.2012

Basically that. There was also some confusion, on the hands of writers, in using the neutral, so when Latin evolved, it fell in disuse. Some (most) neutrals became masculine, others became feminine because they wound up ending in -o/-a (their declinations also changed and this termination was understood to be a mark of gender).

Moderator and earthbound misfit
Joined: 05.04.2013

Which is the rule that still nowadays marks the gender of many (not all though) Italian substantives...well, thank you!

Junior Member
Joined: 17.09.2018
kwameGH wrote:

I'm really learning a lot from this discussion.
The gender system in French is one aspect of the language that deters many from learning it.
My country is surrounded by 3 Francophone countries yet people see no use at all for studying French. It is regarded as complex and boring, and in fact, difficult people are sometimes referred to as 'French'.

Recently I was in a French class (basic French for communication as part of my program of study at the university) and people were surprised and amused to learn that 'sein' and 'vagin' were actually masculine words when to them they should 'obviously' have been feminine.

There are certain endings that tend to be masculine (-age, -ège, -isme, consonants in general, -eur if it is a physical object) or feminine (-ion, -son, -té, -tié, e with th expection of -age, -ège and -isme, -eur if it is a abstract noun). So le sein, le vagin, le féminisme, le maquillage etc. do follow that rule even though we think that they should be feminine.

Of course that doesn't always work. Some words end in accented letters or vowels other than e, and some go against the rules. Le problème, for example, is masculine and la mer is feminine. But I'm going through a flashcard deck of the 20,000 most common French nouns besides that once I don't know, I'm also drilling ones where I'm unsure of their gender (using un and une because you never learn if a word starting with a vowel is masculine or feminine otherwise). I noticed that more nouns seem to follow the rules than not and a lot that don't are very common like façon, main, bonheur or fois, so I already heard them so many times that I know it's la fois and le bonheur just as I know that two and two is four or what the letter "C" looks like. Though I'm sure that a lot of uncommon ones don't follow the rules either, but if it's less common than the 20,000 most common nouns, I probably don't need to have it memorized because even French people would rarely use words less common than this.

Editor in search of Anningan & Malina
Joined: 10.05.2012
Preslynn a écrit :

I noticed that more nouns seem to follow the rules than not and a lot that don't are very common like façon, main, bonheur or fois, so I already heard them so many times that I know it's la fois and le bonheur just as I know that two and two is four or what the letter "C" looks like.

Gets trickier when you take into account the fact many words are homophones in French. La fois is feminine, but le foie isn't. And what about foi? Feminine again. I remember my dear French teacher from Lille who used to say la mère du maire est à la mer.

Editor .
Joined: 09.10.2018

French spelling must be a nightmare for non natives. Especially our devilish mute "e" or these "s" ans "c" that don't produce the same sound depending on the following vowel or the preposterous number of different ways to write the same sound Regular smile

Super Member
Joined: 01.07.2018

In the word "oiseau" (bird) there is not a single letter corresponding to its normal pronunciation (wazo). And I always was fascinated by the name of the city of Sceaux : so... many useless letters, when it could as well be written "So".
But the English are not that bad at the game either... I heard that Tibetan was still worse, but I couldn't confirm it.

Editor in search of Anningan & Malina
Joined: 10.05.2012
Jadis a écrit :

I heard that Tibetan was still worse, but I couldn't confirm it.

Heard about that. It's basically like your example of "oiseau" but it happens way more often. In French it might get hard to write a word correctly only by listening to it, but once you have the written text, you can pretty much guess how it is pronounced. In Tibetan, if you don't know a word, you can't guess neither how it's pronounced nor how it's written.

Junior Member
Joined: 17.09.2018
DarkJoshua wrote:
Preslynn wrote:

I noticed that more nouns seem to follow the rules than not and a lot that don't are very common like façon, main, bonheur or fois, so I already heard them so many times that I know it's la fois and le bonheur just as I know that two and two is four or what the letter "C" looks like.

Gets trickier when you take into account the fact many words are homophones in French. La fois is feminine, but le foie isn't. And what about foi? Feminine again. I remember my dear French teacher from Lille who used to say la mère du maire est à la mer.

Yes,but at least in this case, they are spelled differently. I remember that foi is feminine because it's fois without the s and foie because of foie gras, which comes from LE canard. You add the e from le onto this foie. I know not everyone thinks/learns like this and that being say, I'm doing the flashcards for a reason. Sometimes you just have to drill that stuff. But I generally don't have any trouble with them if they are spelled differently, at least not moreso than with regular nouns that have only one meaning. So le pays/la paix, la mûre/le mur were less troublesome than la tour and le tour, which I messed up so often, my flashcards kept resetting to repeat every day. Maybe I just have a visual memory.

Super Member
Joined: 24.04.2016

english is worse than french in pronounciation, i.e Worcester

Super Member
Joined: 24.04.2016

other example: le/la tour --> round trip-tour/tower
Le Tour de France/la Tour d'Eiffel

Senior Member LoupSolo
Joined: 13.11.2018

Haha, I definitely agree with that. Even for native English speakers pronunciation can be a nuisance.

Editor .
Joined: 09.10.2018

some possible meanings of the sound "o", beside the letter itself :

ô -> a particle introducing vocative (O Master...)
au -> a preposition similar to "at"
eau -> water
eaux -> waters
os -> bones
haut -> high

Senior Member LoupSolo
Joined: 13.11.2018
DarkJoshua wrote:
Jadis wrote:

I heard that Tibetan was still worse, but I couldn't confirm it.

Heard about that. It's basically like your example of "oiseau" but it happens way more often. In French it might get hard to write a word correctly only by listening to it, but once you have the written text, you can pretty much guess how it is pronounced. In Tibetan, if you don't know a word, you can't guess neither how it's pronounced nor how it's written.

That should be interesting. Any examples, please

Moderator sapiens sapiens
Joined: 05.04.2012
Natur Provence wrote:

other example: le/la tour --> round trip-tour/tower
Le Tour de France/la Tour d'Eiffel

Also happens in Portuguese: o cabeça = the leader/the head (of an organization) vs. a cabeça = the head (part of the body) / o língua = the interpreter vs. a língua = the language.

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

Don't get me started on the English spelling system or its phonology... it is a nightmare. In Europe, English speaking children are the one who need the most time to master reading and writing. No surprise. Even young French speakers have it easier apparently.

Concerning Tibetan and its writing/spelling system, here is a very interesting video according to which Tibetan may have the most difficult spelling system: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=btn0-Vce5ug

Senior Member LoupSolo
Joined: 13.11.2018

Thanks for the link. I'll check it out.

Super Member
Joined: 01.07.2018

Le mousse (ship's boy) # la mousse (foam)
Le voile (veil) # la voile (sail)
Le moule (mould) # la moule (mussel)
Le mode (mode, method) # la mode (fashion)
Le crêpe (crêpe) # la crêpe (pancake)
Le manche (handle) # la manche (sleeve)... (or : la Manche, the Channel)

This was an old joke about W.W.2 : in the restaurants, the French servants obligingly used to help the German officers with their coat, saying :
- Voulez-vous que je vous aide à passer la manche ?
(May I help you slipping your sleeve on? or : crossing the Channel)
(This is very likely a legend).

Editor
Joined: 31.12.2013

Sorry if this is a little bit late, but I have found an analogy to grammatical genders for English speakers.
People who speak a language with grammatical genders for nouns know the right gender for every noun just like an English speaker know that the noun ‘record’ has its stress on the first syllable and the verb ‘to record’ has its stress on the second syllable.
How do they know? Do they make mistakes sometimes?
Well, it’s the same thing as for grammatical genders in French or Spanish, one just knows / has learnt it.

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