European languages have genders???

Si   Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:41 am GMT
I agree gender is rather moronic but NOTHING compared to ARTICLES, which are the most moronic things on earth, the Slavs were so intelligent to remove them.
greg   Mon Apr 27, 2009 7:46 am GMT
Guest : « Artificial genders are moronic. The English were so intelligent to remove them. »

Si intelligents que leur langue conserve tout de même quatre genres distincts :

1] masculin : boy — grandfather — uncle

2] féminin : girl — grandmother — aunt

3] épicène (neutre faible) : person — individual — dancer

4] neutre fort : table — cloud — going.
riddance   Mon Apr 27, 2009 11:56 am GMT
Si intelligents que leur langue conserve tout de même quatre genres distincts :

1] masculin : boy — grandfather — uncle

2] féminin : girl — grandmother — aunt

3] épicène (neutre faible) : person — individual — dancer

4] neutre fort : table — cloud — going.

In English, aren't these 4 "genders" are seen only in the 3rd person singular pronoun (if you believe in singular "they"):

1] he/him/his/his
2] she/her/her/hers
3] they/them/their/theirs
4] it/it/its/(its?)
greg   Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:02 pm GMT
riddance : « In English, aren't these 4 "genders" are seen only in the 3rd person singular pronoun (if you believe in singular "they") ».

Oui, la sémiologie du genre anglais est extrêmement réduite. Et le plus souvent reléguée au plan indirect : reprise, ou possibilité de reprise, du substantif (privé de sémiologie du genre) par un pronom sémiologiquement marqué → <it>, <she>, <he>, <they> (valeur singularisante), <he or she>, <(s)he>, <he/she> etc.

Ceci étant, la discrétion sémiologique de l'anglais quant au genre ne signifie pas que le genre nominal n'existe pas (il en existe quatre) : cela veut dire que le système sémiologique anglais fonctionne sur un mode fondé sur une relative rareté.

Il existe d'ailleurs toute une série de substantif dont la sémiologie trahit le genre : <emperess>, <huntress>, <chairperson>, <saleswoman>, <girlhood> etc.
PARISIEN   Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:16 pm GMT
Le genre grammatical permet parfois une extrême concision allusive.

Ainsi, on sait que "une Volvo" désigne une voiture.
Et que "un Volvo" est nécessairement un camion.
Leasnam   Mon Apr 27, 2009 4:20 pm GMT
<<The English were so intelligent to remove them. >>

You say this as if we made a conscious decision to do so. It didn't happen that way though.

The reason why English has no grammatical gender analogous to other IE languages is because they coalesced during the Middle English period into an unstressed "the", aided by the loss of case system.

So, people were left not being able to really remember any longer which gender a word belonged to. That's it. It's not an achievement, although I believe it had a favorable outcome nonetheless.
Invité d'honneur   Mon Apr 27, 2009 6:34 pm GMT
«Le genre grammatical permet parfois une extrême concision allusive.

Ainsi, on sait que "une Volvo" désigne une voiture.
Et que "un Volvo" est nécessairement un camion. »

Ouais ça c'est le pied, il faut bien le dire !

Autre particularité du genre en français : le genre des noms de certains métier dépend du nom lui-même et non du sexe de la personne exerçant le métier en question.

Si je dis qu'une sentinelle est postée à 200 mètres et qu'elle surveille l'entrée, je n'ai donné aucune information sur le sexe de cette sentinelle.

However, in English, if I say that a sentinel is stationned 200 meters away and that he's watching the entrance, I need to choose wether the sentinel is a he or a she (unless I use the neutral "they").
Xie   Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:13 pm GMT
I also got the feeling that...when I speak German at a conversational level (minus technical language, academic language, minus proverbs, minus a lot of verbs and vocab...), like with genders, I speak naturally. For German, my rules of thumb are:

- If it has fixed suffixes, esp. for the feminine, or if the stems are obvious, assign the gender to the noun I'm going to say in less than a split second.
- If it doesn't, then most probably it's masculine; very few are actually neutral.
- If it still doesn't work, then maybe I should assign a gender by common sense. Whether I use reading knowledge or knowledge I got from native speakers/dictionaries, etc, it's obvious that, except Mädchen, for example, any nouns related to people, if they have a singular form, that singular form must be masculine or feminine, depending on whether the person is male or female. I do this in Chinese all my life too, though we don't assign the feminine gender as often as the Germans do.

In the case of German, there are words that are different in meaning given a different gender (der Band, das Band), and some that may be of either gender, then... it depends. If you think it's important, than learn it well. At a higher level of mastery, you can digest vocab fairly quickly. If it's trivial for you at the moment, than just ignore it. It's OK to miss a word or two every day... tho it may take its toll if you miss too many.

Somehow, I guess, in language acquisition... well, I stress acquisition, not learning. Before you acquire, you may well think a language is... wow, riddled with genders and cases and such and such... but if you stop thinking about learning, or about these seemingly ridiculous features of the language you are learning, then I think you'll start to, really, acquire this language. In this case, acquire means you're on the right track, very often without yourself knowing this consciously. There exists a period in which you can (or even should) let the language sink in, with enough input, without having to spend the effort of learning, which is often less effective than acquiring. The more of the language you acquire, the less you think about the grammar and vocab of this language.

For German, I now think of verbs only. I don't need a lot of Chinese verbs, but I do need countless English/French/German verbs. Despite their differences, I simply find the learning curve similar to the first half of the bell curve. At the beginning, it's very steep, and you find it very hard to absorb the grammar. But with enough exposure, even if you don't know any native speakers and just keep on reading your German textbooks... when speaking German becomes a reflex, you know what I mean. Just like why you may need to meet a word many times to master the use of a word (esp. verbs), I think you also need to meet a grammatical pattern for many times to master it, too.

For some strange reasons, I'm far more outspoken in English, followed by Mandarin and German, than Cantonese. As for German, the only one with genders, most of the time I don't really force myself to think of a gender or a verb or word order or anything... there are some parts of the grammar that I haven't acquired yet after 2 years, but as soon as I can get back to formal study, I can go through these details again. After you meet multiple waves of shocks/impact about grammar/vocab for a prolonged period, when you start to think out of the grammar, for example, then it's also the beginning of really speaking the language.

At present, whenever I speak to Germans, esp. with more familiar people/younger people, I can manage the flow of conversations (sometimes I need to supplement my speech with a lot of English, but English is now fading out) much better than 3 weeks ago. I'm even speaking German to German learners from other countries... without much recourse back to English. Some even speak so poor English that I have to speak German almost all the time.

(I don't know, really, but I feel I'm destined to be a language learner. I find Cantonese speakers, for the most part, really dull. It's more interesting to talk to other Chinese, foreigners of any race, any mother far my experience has been quite positive. On the contrary, I can still only see wooden faces and complaints on Cantonese faces/in Cantonese... my god. I can't blame my culture, either, because Mandarin speakers are even more open-minded than they do, despite even more fierce academic discourse, historical debates, etc, between some other Chinese.)
greg   Mon Apr 27, 2009 9:33 pm GMT
Xie : « As for German, the only one with genders [...] ».

L'anglais possède quatre genres sémantiques — comme le français et l'anglais.
Xie   Tue Apr 28, 2009 7:17 am GMT
Having that said, English genders are such that... I said it didn't have genders. Enough said.
Entbark   Thu Apr 30, 2009 10:07 am GMT
<<They know what gender a new word shoud be because of the WORD, not because of the MEANING of the word (unless it is animate). They know the gender of the word "ordinateur" because of the ending "eur".>>

If you re-read my post, you will see that I specifically mentioned affixes.
wolf4   Fri May 01, 2009 5:30 am GMT

Just to get back to the question originally posed by "Super Korean" about "how do they decide genders for new words and new concepts?" I would like to say that I think this question was a good question to ask and an interesting one.

I thought the remark by "Parisien":

" -- This is a very naive question..." was out of line and not fair.

"Parisien" seem to miss the point of what Super Korean was trying to express.

"Parisen" is assuming that all newly invented words are going to be translated from American into French like saying "MP3 player" to be "lecteur MP3". Or like "navigation system" to turn into "système de navigation".

But I would imagine that some new American words are not typically French and would not be translated into a French form therefore you would lose the rule governing what is masculine or feminine.

As it was mentioned, "job" and "gang" are not French and are not translated to a French word as in the above with "MP3 Player" to "lecteur MP3". The words "job" or "gang" does not have an "-eur" ending or an "-er" or "-or" ending etc.

The words "job" or "gang" would remain in French as "le job" or "le gang".

As you have said: "there are sometimes uncertainties with foreign words that have entered French slang..."

So the words "job" or "gang" have endings which you cannot apply a French rule to determine their gender.

Hence "Super Korean" did ask a very good question regarding how do they decide genders for new words and new concepts and therefore not so very naive, was it?

So "Super Korean"'s question was not so silly?

You're right this is getting funny. Je suis entièrement d'accord avec vous.

I can see why you have chose the name: "Parisien" - it suits your attitude.
orlando   Fri May 01, 2009 6:10 am GMT
Ok Parisien, how about this?

As a hypothetical exercise, suppose Martian becomes more influential than English. They have really interesting technology which becomes popular in all countries in the world, and they enter the common vocabularies of all human languages.

Here are some of the new items which are all the rage, how will they be in French:

le globuslakimkhlat or la globuslakimkhlat
le ukgumarishukh or la ukgumarishukh
le vamorg or la vamorg
le stikhamburaj or la stikhamburaj
Susan Boyle Water   Fri May 01, 2009 7:02 am GMT
I love genders, they're so sexy, girl is neutral in German: das Mädchen,
woman too: das Weib, that's why german girls are so masculine, because they'r neutral ;) Poor little mouse is feminine in German: Mickey ist eine kleine Mouse

what is Minnie then, both are feminine :) lol
greg   Fri May 01, 2009 7:55 am GMT
orlando : « le ukgumarishukh or la ukgumarishukh ».

Quel que ce soit le genre (grammatical) que ce neutre fort (sémantique) se verra attribuer par les francophones, ce sera <l'ukgumarishukh> dans tous les cas.

<l'abeille> → féminin grammatical
<l'oiseau> → masculin grammatical