Genders in a Language

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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby linguoboy » 2015-08-31, 2:30

Mentilliath wrote:I only meant that the phrase "has gender" can mean very different things depending on the language. English "has gender" in the sense that pronouns are marked for gender, but the manner in which nouns agree with them is entirely semantic and there's no morphological gender in nouns the way there is in Romance languages. In that sense I mean that there are different "degrees" of gender. Some languages make more distinctions, some languages have more ways in which gender agreement can apply.

In fact, there is a universal hierarchy whereby expressing gender for certain parts of speech (e.g. adjectives) entails expressing it on others as well (e.g. pronouns). The book by Corbett mentioned by Dormouse559 goes into this in some detail. I recommend it highly.
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby linguoboy » 2015-08-31, 2:31

Koko wrote:Hmm, I have a question concerning biological sex. Is it plausible for a language to not have this in any form? (not to say it isn't apparent to the speakers, but there's no lexical difference between, say, "man" VS "woman")

For a language meant to be spoken by present-day humans? Not plausible at all. As long as the distinction is salient to society, it will be expressed lexically.
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby Mentilliath » 2015-08-31, 2:40

linguoboy wrote:In fact, there is a universal hierarchy whereby expressing gender for certain parts of speech (e.g. adjectives) entails expressing it on others as well (e.g. pronouns). The book by Corbett mentioned by Dormouse559 goes into this in some detail. I recommend it highly.


Oh, I have that book; it is a great analysis of grammatical gender :) I read it a few years ago, though, so some of this I only vaguely remember.
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby Koko » 2015-08-31, 3:34

linguoboy wrote:For a language meant to be spoken by present-day humans? Not plausible at all. As long as the distinction is salient to society, it will be expressed lexically.

Hmm, in Isyan culture men and women are generally perceived as equal (ie, the same save few differences). The nearest equivalent to sex differentiation is the use of the two nouns "linodaga" (lit. person with a penis) and "foëbtaga*" (lit. person with a vagina), but we all know this does not mean that a linodaga is necessarily a man (nor foëbtaga = woman). Even so, these are usually only reserved for medical purposes and to make clear the sex when talking to foreigners. Most if not all names are unisex, and even their king of the gods is described with an ambiguous sex. A person's sex is generally disregarded unless one is specifically looking for a reproductive partner (another occasion one might use the aforementioned nouns is to teach children which two types of people can reproduce). Would this provide reason for Isyan not to reflect sex? (otherwise I guess I'll have to bring back the old pairs)

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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby linguoboy » 2015-08-31, 14:53

Koko wrote:A person's sex is generally disregarded unless one is specifically looking for a reproductive partner (another occasion one might use the aforementioned nouns is to teach children which two types of people can reproduce).

Isn't seeking a reproductive partner a pretty significant undertaking? It is in most cultures (human and otherwise).
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby Koko » 2015-08-31, 16:58

I suppose, but in Isya, there has never been so big a necessity of keeping the world so densly populated. The Isyans' ancestors more than likely put this as a high priority, but in the modern Isyan world (for as long as records could be kept), they care more about being able to feed and house everyone without doing to much damage to the land. Something that is hard to achieve with babies popping out of mothers everywhere. There's no restriction on how many two parents may have per se, but the Viyanya does remind everyone there is a limit (it's not like the average Isyan couple could have over ten children anyways). They understand the importance to keeping the Isyan race alive, but put higher importance in keeping the world they live on clean. It's not like they live on it alone and have always been taught that, though created by the gods, so was the world, and no divine creation should be made soiled…

I got a little carried away :lol: . Basically, though they do see it important to reproduce, it's even more important to just live with who you love, or not if you don't love anyone, [I'm bringing this up, because if there's only heterosexual couples, then the population rises. If there's a nice mixture, it may rise, but not as fast and is easily managed]. But even so, you can find "eunthelav," who are people a person in a homosexual partnership may have a baby with, solely for the purpose of having a child with at least one of the parents' DNA.

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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby linguoboy » 2015-08-31, 17:21

Koko wrote:I got a little carried away :lol: . Basically, though they do see it important to reproduce, it's even more important to just live with who you love, or not if you don't love anyone, [I'm bringing this up, because if there's only heterosexual couples, then the population rises. If there's a nice mixture, it may rise, but not as fast and is easily managed]. But even so, you can find "eunthelav," who are people a person in a homosexual partnership may have a baby with, solely for the purpose of having a child with at least one of the parents' DNA.

So you have a special word for same-sex couples but not a conventional way to designate the sex of the people involved? That doesn't make any sense to me. Again, if "sex" (whether defined solely in terms of genitalia or not) is salient enough that it influences the classification of couples, then why wouldn't you have common terminology for it?

Maybe there's some sort of social structure you could have where sex really isn't relevant (e.g. universal free love with all children raised cooperatively), but this doesn't struck me as that structure. You have couples forming pair bonds. It's going to matter whether those couples can reproduce on their own or not, and when talking about that sex becomes salient.
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby Koko » 2015-08-31, 17:37

No, I have a word for someone you have sex with solely to have a baby that you and your same-sex partner raise (if that's what you want to do, and of course if successful); not a word for same-sex relationships. But eunthelav don't even have to be just for same-sex couples. If you or your opposite-sex partner can't have a baby for whatever reason, the one who can might call upon an eunthela.

How would your proposed structure work?

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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby linguoboy » 2015-08-31, 17:45

Koko wrote:How would your proposed structure work?

I was imagining a society where everyone just has sex with whoever they want and seeing the baby to term and raising it becomes a collective responsibility. You'd still need a word for "pregnant person" (and possibly "mother" if the relationship of childbearer to child continues to be salient after giving birth) but no word for "woman" per se.
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby Koko » 2015-08-31, 18:49

linguoboy wrote:
Koko wrote:How would your proposed structure work?

I was imagining a society where everyone just has sex with whoever they want

Hmm, that's kinda what the Isyans do. Except,
and seeing the baby to term and raising it becomes a collective responsibility.

it's not really a collective responsibility. Just the parents raising the child and whoever else wants to help (grandparents, siblings, friends) in any way.

You'd still need a word for "pregnant person" (and possibly "mother" if the relationship of childbearer to child continues to be salient after giving birth)

Both of which I have in Isyan… kinda. "Soja" is just either parent/guardian (assuming one of your sojia/sojav is like a step-parent or whatever), so it does often mean "mother" (there's also hyja for specifically your own, and sometimes a geja will call one parent soj' and the other hyj').

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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby linguoboy » 2015-08-31, 19:25

Koko wrote:Just the parents raising the child and whoever else wants to help (grandparents, siblings, friends) in any way.

And what prevents the non-childbearing parent from simply walking away?

That's the thing: as long as bringing a child to term is a burden which borne wildly disproportionately between two progenitors, I think distinctions of sex will be highly salient.

So, what's the story with animals? How do you distinguish "type of animal which gives milk and bears young/lays eggs/yields milk/is generally useful" from "type of animal we only keep around in order to keep the others bearing young/laying eggs/yielding milk/etc."?
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby Koko » 2015-08-31, 19:59

linguoboy wrote:
Koko wrote:Just the parents raising the child and whoever else wants to help (grandparents, siblings, friends) in any way.

And what prevents the non-childbearing parent from simply walking away?

Bonds with the childbearing parent. Back to the eunthelav, there is no romantic bond between the two people involved, so once (presuming the eunthela is the one who bears the child) the child is born, the eunthela can simply walk away.

That's the thing: as long as bringing a child to term is a burden which borne wildly disproportionately between two progenitors, I think distinctions of sex will be highly salient.

(This'll sound extremely ignorant, and I don't like this statement myself but:) That's just an opinion. Since we don't know of any societies where sex isn't salient, it's hard to pinpoint what exactly would make for one such society. Anything on the topic would just be pure speculation and hypothesis.

So, what's the story with animals? How do you distinguish "type of animal which gives milk and bears young/lays eggs/yields milk/is generally useful" from "type of animal we only keep around in order to keep the others bearing young/laying eggs/yielding milk/etc."?

Simple, "egg-bearer" or "milk-giver" and the other probably has a word like "meat-giver" or something (I've only done stuff for people, I don't even know what kinds of animals Isya would have outside of pigs and chickens). This is no different than calling whoever is pregnant in your proposed society "child-bearer," just applied to animals ;) But just like in English you have chicken -> hen, rooster, so would Isyan have a word for both types that is used more often since context generally distinguishes the two.

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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby k1234567890y » 2015-09-02, 4:37

I don't frequently use a sex-based gender system in my a priori conlangs, most of my a priori conlangs don't have genders or have an animacy-based noun class system.

For example, Lonmai Luna, an a priori conlang of mine, doesn't have grammatical gender or other types of noun classes. Lonmai Luna is originally spoken by long-longs, long-longs are a kind of Oviparous animal, they are intelligent being, but they don't have sexual dimorphism, long-longs can perform parthenogenesis and change their gender between male, female and undediced by their will, most long-longs keep their genders undecided in most of the time, and most long-longs give birth to their offsprings by parthenogenesis, having sex is uncommon among long-longs and Lonmai Luna has no native terms to describe sex or gender.

To compensate the loneliness of parthenogenesis in taking care of children, long-longs who are relatives to each other frequently live together and take care of the offsprings of each other, which leads a hawaiian kinship system of Lonmai Luna, and as a result of lacking of native gender terms and the use of a hawaiian kinship system, Lonmai Luna has a very simple and gender-neutral kinship term in its native vocabulary.

However, as long-longs are peace-loving intellectual beings, they have a quite developed culture, and after human beings entering the 8th world, the world originally lived by long-longs, some human beings adopted Lonmai Luna, as Lonmai Luna is usable by human beings, and human beings started to bring gender terms and sex terms into Lonmai Luna from their native tongues.

Also, the life cycle of long-longs can be read in the following links:

http://k1234567890y.deviantart.com/art/ ... -440050088 (English version)

http://k1234567890y.deviantart.com/art/ ... -440050284 (Lonmai Luna Romanization version)
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby Thon » 2015-10-30, 9:32

Gussnish has two purely grammatical genders (masculine and feminine) based on whether the Proto-Pulchric root of a word ends with a consonant or a vowel. So crazy things can happen -- for example "person" is feminine while both "woman" and "man" are masculine.

Borrowings from Vrūszka are always feminine.

Feminine:
person: λa /ɮa/, from Proto-Pulchric *dˠaha
tree: reλæth /ɹəɮɛθ/, from Proto-Pulchric *ridˠe:ta
weight: dzif /dzɪf/, borrowed from Vrūszka
song: walma /waʟma/, borrowed from Vrūszka
Masculine:
man: sngædh /sŋɛð/, from Proto-Pulchric *seŋe:d
woman: cæth /kɛθ/, from Proto-Pulchric *ke:t
eating: ithø /ɪθɵ/, from Proto-Pulchric *i:tor

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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby linguoboy » 2015-10-30, 12:28

Thon wrote:Gussnish has two purely grammatical genders (masculine and feminine) based on whether the Proto-Pulchric root of a word ends with a consonant or a vowel. So crazy things can happen -- for example "person" is feminine while both "woman" and "man" are masculine.

So if there's no semantic component--if "feminine" isn't preferred for females and "masculine" for males--then why even use this terminology? Why not just call them "Class A" and "Class B" or something equally neutral?
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby ShounenRonin » 2016-04-20, 21:56

I usually include gender in my conlangs.

My current project, Vroja, has two genders: masculine and feminine. Now that I think about it, I may add a neutral gender. I originally wanted to base the language on animacy and inanimacy but I have no idea how to do it and I have never studied a language that does it.

Vroja has only one pronoun that covers all genders: he, she, and it. The gender is figured out by context and the gender cases of the other words within the same sentence.

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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby linguoboy » 2016-04-21, 2:31

ShounenRonin wrote:My current project, Vroja, has two genders: masculine and feminine. Now that I think about it, I may add a neutral gender. I originally wanted to base the language on animacy and inanimacy but I have no idea how to do it and I have never studied a language that does it.

It's pretty easy, actually. Animate gender is used for living things (however the culture in question defines those) and inanimate is used for nonliving.

You can read more on the grammatical category of animacy here.
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby ShounenRonin » 2016-05-19, 13:58

linguoboy wrote:
ShounenRonin wrote:My current project, Vroja, has two genders: masculine and feminine. Now that I think about it, I may add a neutral gender. I originally wanted to base the language on animacy and inanimacy but I have no idea how to do it and I have never studied a language that does it.

It's pretty easy, actually. Animate gender is used for living things (however the culture in question defines those) and inanimate is used for nonliving.

You can read more on the grammatical category of animacy here.


I see, thanks!

I do have a question.

My conlang has seperate pronouns for animacy. Since there seems to be a rank for animacy, would there be seperate pronouns for animate and inanimate nouns, or would it be a pronoun for humans, then a pronoun for animals, the one for plants, and so on?

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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby linguoboy » 2016-05-19, 16:27

ShounenRonin wrote:My conlang has seperate pronouns for animacy. Since there seems to be a rank for animacy, would there be seperate pronouns for animate and inanimate nouns, or would it be a pronoun for humans, then a pronoun for animals, the one for plants, and so on?

Whichever you want. You can read about some of the attested possibilities here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_gender#Gender_assignment.
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Re: Genders in a Language

Postby Atluk » 2016-06-03, 12:28

My conlang has three genders: Human, Animal, and Thing.

The only issue I am having is that it is a conlang for a fantasy world, so I am trying to figure out what gender gods and other divine beings would fall under.

They obviously aren't human, and would logically fit into the "Things" class, but I'm sure many speakers would find that disrespectful if not outright blasphemous. So the "Human" class may not be strictly for humans, but for any sentient being. Is this a valid justification?


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