How many genders does English have???

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Maja
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Postby Maja » 2004-07-21, 14:37

I just wonder why so much ado about nothing? :shock: :shock: :shock:

Comparing to any Slavic language English has only one grammatical class, name it gender or sex. :wink:

When those of you who want to persuade us, how you have a multi-gender English, would start dealing with Slavic nouns and multi-gender-form verbs, adjectives, numbers, then you'll see how void these arguments are. :?
Maja

elgrande

Postby elgrande » 2004-07-21, 14:57

Maja wrote:I just wonder why so much ado about nothing? :shock: :shock: :shock:

Comparing to any Slavic language English has only one grammatical class, name it gender or sex. :wink:

When those of you who want to persuade us, how you have a multi-gender English, would start dealing with Slavic nouns and multi-gender-form verbs, adjectives, numbers, then you'll see how void these arguments are. :?


I think it's a theoretical problem rather than a practical one.

I guess everyone here knows that some other languages are much more complex in this respect and have all kinds of gender agreement, whereas in English you pretty much have natural gender, sometimes "it" for "baby/child" and for animals, "she" for ships and sometimes cars, the moon that is female in literature, the sun that is male in literature, and perhaps half a dozen of other weird cases, and I think I've read discussions about whether or not "blond(e)" should agree in sex with the person it describes.

But people want an absolute answer such as "yes" or "no" and not something like "well, there's almost no grammatical, but only natural gender, but then again, there are exceptions". :P

So, as it's not so simple, I think it all boils down to "yes, there is grammatical gender in some sense".

senatortombstone

Postby senatortombstone » 2004-07-21, 15:00

Maja wrote:I just wonder why so much ado about nothing? :shock: :shock: :shock:

Comparing to any Slavic language English has only one grammatical class, name it gender or sex. :wink:

When those of you who want to persuade us, how you have a multi-gender English, would start dealing with Slavic nouns and multi-gender-form verbs, adjectives, numbers, then you'll see how void these arguments are. :?


No on here has said that English has grammatical gender, but it does use gender when referring to human beings(he/she) animals/infants(he/she/it) and inanimate objects(usually "it" but in cases where affection is applied (cars/boats/etc) she or he can be applied to an inanimate noun).

So english does use gender when refering to objects in third person.

Obviously English doesn't have gender like Spanish, German and especially Slavic languages do. Don't worry the toughness and dificulty of Slavic grammar isn't being diminished by the discussion of English grammar.

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Nukalurk
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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-07-21, 16:41

Kubi wrote:
Amikeco wrote:le Suisse - la Suissesse (Swiss - Swiss (woman))

Are you sure? As far as I know, a female Swiss is also a "suisse".


I think so, even my grammar book says it, I just looked it up.

tomakk

re: ta/ta/ta/ta :)

Postby tomakk » 2004-07-21, 16:41

>There is a third ta1 : 它 used for "it" and I've seen 牠 ta1 used for animals before. Of course it's all the same word.
>The same goes for ni3 (you): 你 and 妳.


I've read about these forms (它 and 牠 and 妳), but I have wondered if they're really used?

Geist II

Postby Geist II » 2004-07-21, 18:16

In American schools (the younger grades), they teach gender as part of English grammar; the lessons only deal with he - masc., she - fem., etc., though.

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Re: re: ta/ta/ta/ta :)

Postby Aurelio » 2004-07-22, 0:02

Quote:
I've read about these forms (它 and 牠 and 妳), but I have wondered if they're really used?


Oh, 它 and 她 are certainly used a lot. 牠 is less frequent. I ran into it in a Hokkien Chinese version of Aesop's fables.

他: 64.5 million google-hits
她: 20 million google-hits
它: 15.5 million google-hits
牠: 8 million google-hits

妳: 930 thousand google-hits

Regards,
Aurelio

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Postby bender » 2004-07-22, 3:31

I think it's curious that even words that have different forms for both sexes may sometimes lose this distinction... I've heard an actress on the video saying that she's an actor. I don't know whether this is a tendency, though. If it is, it shows that genders don't actually suit English grammar, and every distinction that exists today is nothing but a trace of the old form of the language...
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toomaak

re: actress

Postby toomaak » 2004-07-22, 4:12

Sure, someone might use actor for a female.

Similarly, someone might use waiter for a female.

It is just shorthand -- or sloppiness, depending on how you want to look at it :)

Also, someone might use postman for a woman. In fact, I think postwoman has not crystallized as strongly as actress and waitress.

I think it could be attributed to English not having much gender (or none, but then I mean, not having many gendered nouns), so we may not get much practice doing this mental adjustment as we speak.

I speculate that speakers of Italian, Greek, ...? might get more practice doing such adjustments on the fly (eg, professor/professoressa) than we get, because we don't have as many sets (eg, we don't have a feminine form of professor, AFAIK).

Guest

Re: re: actress

Postby Guest » 2004-07-22, 13:11

toomaak wrote:Sure, someone might use actor for a female.

Similarly, someone might use waiter for a female.

It is just shorthand -- or sloppiness, depending on how you want to look at it :)

Also, someone might use postman for a woman. In fact, I think postwoman has not crystallized as strongly as actress and waitress.



For a female waiter you would use waitress and for a female actor you would use actress.

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Nukalurk
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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-07-22, 13:22

"Waiter" is not only a male noun but a general description, too. Why should she emphasize that she is a waitress, if it is clear to everybody that she is female?

senatortombstone

Postby senatortombstone » 2004-07-22, 15:55

Amikeco wrote:"Waiter" is not only a male noun but a general description, too. Why should she emphasize that she is a waitress, if it is clear to everybody that she is female?


I don't know about your neck of the woods, but here in America you call a female waiter a waitress. I suppose you could her a waiter, but I can't really think of a time when I or others have done that. It's just one of those cultural things, I guess.

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Nukalurk
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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-07-22, 16:50

I meant when she says it, not when you talk to her in her function as a waitress. ;)

senatortombstone

Postby senatortombstone » 2004-07-22, 16:55

Amikeco wrote:I meant when she says it, not when you talk to her in her function as a waitress. ;)


Even still, I have never heard a waitress refer to herself as a waiter. She would either say

"I wait tables"

or

"I am a waitress"

You may even hear her say "I waitress tables at a restaurant"
Last edited by senatortombstone on 2004-07-22, 16:56, edited 1 time in total.

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Nukalurk
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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-07-22, 16:55

Okay, maybe you're right and it is a cultural thing. ;)

elgrande

Postby elgrande » 2004-07-22, 16:57

senatortombstone wrote:
Amikeco wrote:I meant when she says it, not when you talk to her in her function as a waitress. ;)


Even still, I have never heard a waitress refer to herself as a waiter. She would either say

"I wait tables"

or

"I am a waitress"

You may even hear her say "I waitress tables at a restaurant"


I think when you really want a term that is neutral and doesn't mention the gender, you use "server".

tomakk

apparently usage varies

Postby tomakk » 2004-07-22, 20:17

Apparently usage varies in the U.S., as we U.S. natives here are reporting widely different experiences!

I have never in my life heard "I waitress tables.." in any state -- I have never heard that used as a verb in any sentence.

I have heard the nouns "waiter" and "waitress" used. I have heard "waiter" used for a female. I have never heard "waitress" used for a male. I have, OTOH, heard "stewardress" used for a male, but I strongly recommend against such usage, as it could well be taken as insulting.

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Postby Kubi » 2004-07-23, 11:03

Amikeco wrote:
Kubi wrote:
Amikeco wrote:le Suisse - la Suissesse (Swiss - Swiss (woman))

Are you sure? As far as I know, a female Swiss is also a "suisse".


I think so, even my grammar book says it, I just looked it up.

So did I now, and my dictionary says "suisse" for both...Any natives here to sort it out?
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Nukalurk
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Postby Nukalurk » 2004-07-23, 11:33

I've also heard your version, maybe it's a newer one.

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Gong Sun Hao Ran
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Postby Gong Sun Hao Ran » 2004-07-23, 13:59

"Actor" is a more or less collective term that can refer to a male or female actor. Often people use the term "actress" - in certain addresses it is not use and referring to a large cast as "the actors".
Cantonese does not make a distinction between male and female in the third person - or maybe it is a rare practice. The same character is used to refer to both male and female.
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