Why are Romance languages like Spanish are so weird?

CommonAswhole   Sat Apr 18, 2009 5:46 pm GMT
Interesting fact: in the official Dutch language there are three genders: feminine, masculine and neuter.

The article of the feminine and masculine nouns is 'de' however, and that's why you can only see the distinction when you use possessive pronouns. The general rule is as in any other language, abstract nouns are often feminine.
Modern Dutch speaker though, are losing/have already lost their sense in judging what gender a noun is. So actually there are only two genders now: neuter and non-neuter.

However, most Flemish people speak a Dutch that is heavily influenced by Brabantian. Most Flemish speak in an intermediary modus that is a mix between dialect and general Dutch (often Brabantian dialect, as it's being spread through all provinces even Limburg and the old medieval Flemish provinces through our media).
In Brabantian you can clearly see the distinction in all three Germanic genders when you use indefinite forms however.

English Dutch Brabantian Dutch
a man een man ne man
a woman een vrouw een vrouw
a child een kind è kind

This is why educated Flemish make less mistakes in using the possessive pronoun when making out the gender when speaking Dutch.
CANadian   Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:18 pm GMT
<< How could a objects or things have masculinity and femininity? How do they decide what is masculine and what is femine? >>

To answer the original question of the person who started this thread, linguistic genders started through the process of assigning a gender to inanimate objects based on their appearance and/or function.

Certain things just "feel" more feminine than others. For example, "earth" feels feminine (or at least, it felt that way centuries ago) because it gives birth to crops.. it nurtures and feeds us..

La terre (FR)
La terra (IT)
La tierra (SP)

On the other hand, "fire" feels masculine, it's strong, powerful, able to burn/hurt us...

Le feu
Il fuoco
El fuego

Of course, there are certain objects for which gender can be assigned subjectively (including the two above.)
Also, the same word can be masculine in, say, French and feminine in, say, Italian and vice versa, or any combination of the three languages.

However, this is how this phenomenon actually started... it's by no means perfect (it could be random sometimes) however, sometimes it makes perfect sense, like the example above.

I hope this helped.
Trilingual ;-)   Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:48 pm GMT
intresting;-) I speak 3 languages (Spanish/German/English)


ape – towel – queen

the ape
the table
the queen

der Affe
das Handtuch
die Königin

el mono
la mesa
la reina

Sometimes (but not often) it is weird – even as a native – I have to thing what gender I have to use … In Spanish the same – also native :-)

In English (not native) I remember that it was just easy to learn – I think the thoughts are not disturbed – like in German or Spanish … But on the other side, it's more precise … just my impression.
CommonAswhole   Sat Apr 18, 2009 6:51 pm GMT
As long as you realize that 'the table' is 'die Tafel' in German. But you needed an example of a neuter noun, so I'm not nitpicking.
K. T.   Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:01 pm GMT
Languages may just feel "weird" to some people when they start learning them. You get over that feeling after awhile. I

As to why IE languages have gender-I believe it is because it is a way the Greeks came up with to describe how their language was naturally ordered.

Greek should be studied more. It has influenced so many IE languages
held   Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:13 pm GMT
Greek should be studied more. It has influenced so many IE languages

Sorry but the above statement is a bit silly, all ancient Indo-European languages, except Hittite, had the gender. Sanskrit, which is more ancient than Greek had three genders
CommonAswhole   Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:23 pm GMT
Proto-Germanic (were nothing is known about) was already spoken when the Ancient Greeks had their golden age, and the Celts were known as the Scourge of Europe which they dominated. The Italics were also still living in tribes, and it was only getting clear that the people Latium were gaining dominance.
It could very well be another language than Latin that could be spread and the Romance languages wouldn't exists then (I still tremble before the might of the Romans, when I look at the various Romance languages spoken today).

Greek only influenced the Romans later on, and only in vocabulary. Via Latin all other already existing European IE-languages got influenced by Greek. Later in the Renaissance Ancient (Ionic) Greek would contrinue to influence us.

Grammatically Greek has done nothing to influence us. Few to nothing.

As if the Greeks have invented the gender, absurd claim. As if people invent it, as if it doesn't evolve with culture.
haji   Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:31 pm GMT
o mar (po)
el mar (sp) - pero 'alta mar', 'baja mar'...
el mar (ca)
il mare (it)

la mar (oc)
la mer (fr)

el color (ca)
el color (sp)
il colore (it)

a cor (po)
la color (oc)
la couleur (fr)
K. t.   Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:33 pm GMT
Have you both studied Greek, then? I should probably provide a source. I think the source was Greek, but I don't recall where I read this.
CommonAswhole   Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:53 pm GMT
I haven't studied Greek and only know a tiny basic knowledge of that language. It's only a fact that Germanic languages all had genders even without contacting the Greek civilization. They weren't even completely conquered by the Romans. This is the reason why Germanic languages exist and why the Celtic ones have been replaced by Romance languages.

How could Greek influence other languages, especially with core grammatic details like genders?
CommonAswhole   Sat Apr 18, 2009 7:57 pm GMT
Very still, I'm taking you serious.

It's easy to explain how genders disappeared (merging), but how were genders created? Lingiusts haven't even come up with a consensus for that, but many believe that Proto-Indo-European only had animate and inanimate nouns. How masculine and feminine nouns were created really is interesting matter.
Guest   Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:02 pm GMT
el mar (sp) - pero 'alta mar', 'baja mar'...

Mar is generally masculine in Spanish but it can also be feminine too: La Mar.
Trilingual   Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:03 pm GMT

oh, sorry - Yur're right:
It's 'the table' - 'der Tisch' (or 'die Tafel') ;-) Natürlich musste es "der Tisch" heißen!
Trilingual   Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:12 pm GMT
I think 'weird' was not best term - I would say that it is just unusual...
CANadian   Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:31 pm GMT
The claim that linguistic gender originated from Greek is completely false.
Even some aboriginal languages in Papua New Guinea and Australia were discovered to employ gender. Greek was NOT the source for this grammatical phenomenon.

<< Lingiusts haven't even come up with a consensus for that (...) How masculine and feminine nouns were created really is interesting matter. >>

The common consensus is what I just explained above.

Masculine words tend to be active.
Fire is an active thing, it [moves], it burns skin, it cooks meat, it melts iron, it boils water... etc.

Feminine words tend to be passive.
Earth is a passive thing, it's inert, stationary... it GETS plowed, it GETS dug, it GETS planted... etc.