Ask-A-Linguist Message Details
|Subject:||Gender in pronouns|
I wonder why some languages use different pronouns for different genders and why some don't. For example in English he and she differs from each other but both of them 3 person singular. But in Turkish just ''O'' is used for both male and female people. What is the reason of this difference. Can we define a principle depending on this difference for the social group that language belongs to. Let me express myself more clearly. I mean if a language of a nation uses different pronouns for males and females then that nation has this characteristics and if a language of nation does not have different pronouns for different genders then that nation has this characteristics.
I agree with both of my colleagues who have responded. Part of the problem lies with the ambiguity of the word "gender" itself. We identify it in English with both sex and classification, although the two uses are so close in English that the distinction is less than obvious. Of course, the word is indirectly descended from Latin "genus," which meant variously "race," "family," "kind,"variety," etc.
To linguists, gender generally means morphological marking of nouns that classifies them for different agreement patterns. Many languages have grammatical gender systems that have nothing to do with sex and may classify in very different ways. In many Bantu languages, there are genders for humans, tools, things that come in pairs, things that are long and narrow, things that are unusually large, etc.
The gender systems of most of the modern languages of Europe, much of Central Asia, and much of Northern India line up roughly with sex, but they descend from an early Proto-Indo-European stage in which grammatical classification of nouns and their agreement systems probably had nothing to do with sex. In the West, it was the early Greek grammarians who first noted the relationship between noun classes and sex.
|Reply From:||Herbert Frederic Stahlke click here to access email|