LINGUIST List 14.3369

Sun Dec 7 2003

Disc: Re: Grammatical Gender

Editor for this issue: Sarah Murray <>


  1. Francisco Dubert, Re: 14.3341, Disc: Re: Grammatical Gender

Message 1: Re: 14.3341, Disc: Re: Grammatical Gender

Date: Wed, 3 Dec 2003 10:42:45 +0100
From: Francisco Dubert <>
Subject: Re: 14.3341, Disc: Re: Grammatical Gender

About the comment of Karen Stanley 14.3254 "It wouldn't be so strange
(at least to me) to think of having nouns from three different
*categories* refer to a similar/the same object; it seems it is only
when we think of them as having different *genders* that it strikes us
as odd or unusual"

I think that when we talk about gender we must forget meaning (at
least in some way). For example, in Galician (and Spanish and
Portuguese) we can say:

a) "o bo pai" ('the good father'; masc.)
b) "a boa nai" ('the good mother'; fem.) and
c) "os bos pais" ('the good parents' or 'the good fathers'; or masc.)

So, with (c) we can refer only to 'fathers'; or to both the father and
the mother (the parents); in both cases, we use the word corresponding
to father with the masculine gender that corresponds to this word, not
to the sex of the referents. We know that "os bos pais" meaning 'the
good parents' is masculine because the agreement: the article "os" and
the adjective "bos" are masculine too.

But, people tend to make correspond to masculine gender with male sex
and feminine gender with female sex, at least in some words; so, they
can create (and do create) new feminine word-forms for words referring
to women that in the past only have a masculine form:
O presidente (masc.) 'the president (man)' vs. A presidenta (fem.) 'the
president (woman).

Francisco Dubert Garc�a
Departamento de Filolox�a Galega
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
15782 Santiago de Compostela (Espa�a)
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