What gender is "the"?

Adam   Monday, February 23, 2004, 09:10 GMT
Is it neuter or feminine? The reason why I think that it is feminine is because some people say things like "Look at the ship. Isn't she beautiful?" So is it the case that in other languages things are feminine, masculine and neuter, but in English everything is feminine?
Simon   Monday, February 23, 2004, 09:21 GMT
No we don't have it. We used to. Everything is just things. Why do they need genders? It is other languages that are crazy. Is a book feminine? How would you tell?
Adam   Monday, February 23, 2004, 11:28 GMT
Yeah. I know what you mean. Other languages have artificial definite articles. In French, a chair is a woman and a tree is a man. It makes no sense. And then the adjectives also change depending on whether or not they are describing something masculine or feminine-

"Un cahier blanc" - "A white exercise book."

"Une table blanche" - "A white table."

But it doesn't mean that English is easier, because there are things in English that speakers of other languages will find difficult to learn.
Simon   Monday, February 23, 2004, 15:53 GMT
This gender issue often comes up. Speakers of gender languages seem often to think that gender has a real value. For me, as an English speaker it's just an obstacle to overcome.
Lavoisel   Monday, February 23, 2004, 19:59 GMT
Yes, we speakers of gender languages are raised with the idea that the things are a bit human and this idea has but a sentimental value.
Yet I think giving a gender to things also partakes of a natural tendency to personify. We are humans, we often see the things as a reflect of a part of our self.
But that's right, there is no rational value behind it.

By the way Simon, how long have you spoken French and how good is your grasp of the gender of things?
Juan   Tuesday, February 24, 2004, 01:34 GMT
Pretty soon gender will not exist in English. Over the years English grammar has gradually become simpler rather than more complex. Does that make it inferior to other languages? Only serious ;-)
Simon   Tuesday, February 24, 2004, 09:44 GMT
I don't see gender. I just hope I remember it.

I once saw an article about the way there are nouns where the masculine version means one thing and the feminine version is a prostitute:

- Entraineur/entraineuse
- Courtisan/courtisane, ...
Simon   Tuesday, February 24, 2004, 09:47 GMT
Un gars : C'est un jeune homme
Une garce : C'est une pute

Un courtisan : C'est un proche du roi
Une courtisane : C'est une pute

Un masseur : C'est un kiné
Une masseuse : C'est une pute

Un coureur : C'est un joggeur
Une coureuse : C'est une pute

Un rouleur : C'est un cycliste
Une rouleure : C'est une pute

Un professionnel : C'est un sportif de haut niveau
Une professionnelle : C'est une pute

Un homme sans moralité : C'est un politicien
Une femme sans moralité : C'est une pute

Un entraîneur : C'est un homme qui entraîne une équipe sportive
Une entraîneuse : C'est une pute

Un homme à femmes : C'est un séducteur
Une femme à hommes : C'est une pute

Un homme public : C'est un homme connu
Une femme publique : C'est une pute

Un homme facile : C'est un homme agréable à vivre
Une femme facile : C'est une pute

Un homme qui fait le trottoir : C'est un carreleur
Une femme qui fait le trottoir : C'est une pute