LINGUIST List 3.283

Mon 23 Mar 1992

Disc: Gender

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  1. Allan C. Wechsler, "Its" in King James
  2. "Don W.", Gender marking
  3. Juergen Broschart, unmarked feminine
  4. bert peeters, 3.275 Gender

Message 1: "Its" in King James

Date: Fri, 20 Mar 1992 11:13-050"Its" in King James
From: Allan C. Wechsler <ACWYUKON.SCRC.Symbolics.COM>
Subject: "Its" in King James

Lev. 25:5 That which groweth of its own accord of thy harvest thou shalt
not reap, neither gather the grapes of thy vine undressed: for it is a
year of rest unto the land.

(But for the most part KJ uses the "thereof" construction; that is,
where we would say "The earth and its fullness are the Lord's", KJ has
"The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." Actually, we would
say, "The earth and its contents belong to the Lord," or something like
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Message 2: Gender marking

Date: Fri, 20 Mar 1992 23:12:52 Gender marking
From: "Don W." <webbdCCVAX.CCS.CSUS.EDU>
Subject: Gender marking

In Esperanto, "father" = 'patro' while "mother" = 'patrino'.
That is, "patro" with the feminizing suffix "-ino."

Personally, I have a violently negative reaction to that
formation and believe it's a fault that ought to be fixed.
Since Esperanto is an artificial language (is that the
right term?), prescriptivism may have its place in it.
How does the list feel about that?

On the other hand, the Russian "djadja" [j = yod] ('uncle')
has a feminine declension and takes masculine agreements.
I don't imagine the Russians have any problem with that,
but it would be interesting to hear from Russianists on
the subject.

Don W. - DonWebbCSUS.EDU
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Message 3: unmarked feminine

Date: Sun, 22 Mar 1992 19:33:14 unmarked feminine
From: Juergen Broschart <am004aix370.rrz.Uni-Koeln.DE>
Subject: unmarked feminine

There is an article by Barry Alpher on "Feminine as the unmarked gender"
in Australian Journal of Linguistics, Vol. 7/2 (1987), pp.169-187
(special reference to Australian languages) and, in the same volume,
an article by Ephraim Bani on "Masculine and feminine grammatical
gender in Kalaw Lagaw Ya" (apparently feminine is unmarked here;
unfortunately I didn't have a closer look at either of the articles
so far).

Eva Schultze-Berndt
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Message 4: 3.275 Gender

Date: Mon, 23 Mar 92 13:40:39 ES3.275 Gender
From: bert peeters <>
Subject: 3.275 Gender

> Date: Thu, 19 Mar 92 19:02:35 CST
> From: tpc1Ra.MsState.Edu (Price Caldwell)
> Subject: Feminine as the unmarked case
> There are unmarked feminines even in English. Witness cow vs. bull,
> duck vs. drake.

Examples such as cow/bull and duck/drake are no good wrt the topic under
discussion. Although the first member of each pair is surely an unmarked
feminine, both members cannot be considered as case forms of one single

> Date: Fri, 20 Mar 92 00:33:03 -0500
> From: (John O'Neil)
> Subject: languages with the feminine as the unmarked case
> Despite this, the French don't seem either more or less noticably
> sexist than anyone else. Possibly that's because, diachronically, the
> immediately preceeding forms for the adjectives was one where the
> masculine form was basic, and the feminine was derived from it by a
> schwa suffix. Given a final consonant deletion followed by a final
> schwa deletion, and we get the synchronic system.

I beg to disagree. Native speakers do not know about the way things worked
centuries ago, unless they took a course in historical grammar. My bet is
that the rule taught in French schools is the rule for the written language
where indeed the masculine form is basic - just add (prototypically) -e
to it and you've got the feminine. The rule for the spoken language is
simply not taught, and therefore the French are not aware of the alternative
way in which adjectival gender agreement can be approached. THAT explains
why in this area they are not noticeably more sexist than anyone else.
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