LINGUIST List 6.777

Mon 05 Jun 1995

Disc: Gender Pronouns (was Ling in Science Fiction)

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Directory

  1. , Re: 6.726, Possessives, Ling in Science Fiction, Official Lang of USA
  2. , Re: 6.726, Ling in Science Fiction (Sex & Gender)
  3. Roy Dace, Genderless languages
  4. Anton Sherwood, genderless pronouns

Message 1: Re: 6.726, Possessives, Ling in Science Fiction, Official Lang of USA

Date: Thu, 25 May 1995 15:08:38 Re: 6.726, Possessives, Ling in Science Fiction, Official Lang of USA
From: <00hfstahlkebsuvc.bsu.edu>
Subject: Re: 6.726, Possessives, Ling in Science Fiction, Official Lang of USA

Gabor Gyori writes:
>
>This phenomenon is not just science fiction. Hungarian has no gender
>specific pronouns, simply because it has no gender distinction at
>all. Does anyone know about similar languages? (As far as I know this
>goes for all Uralic and maybe also for the Turkic languages.)
>

This is generally true of Niger-Congo languages as well. Very few of
them have gender distinctions based on sex, although systems based on
other categories are fairly wide-spread, especially in Benue-Congo,
West Atlantic and Voltaic. One of the most readable reviews of noun
class systems in Africa is still William Welmers' three chapters in
his _African Language Structures_ (University of California Press,
1973).

Herb

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Message 2: Re: 6.726, Ling in Science Fiction (Sex & Gender)

Date: Sat, 27 May 95 9:49:50 CSTRe: 6.726, Ling in Science Fiction (Sex & Gender)
From: <halaszkewszeg.norden1.com>
Subject: Re: 6.726, Ling in Science Fiction (Sex & Gender)

Content-Length: 2302

 From: GYORIGbtk.jpte.hu

 This phenomenon is not just science fiction. Hungarian has no gender
 specific pronouns, simply because it has no gender distinction at
 all. Does anyone know about similar languages? (As far as I know this
 goes for all Uralic and maybe also for the Turkic languages.)

 Gabor Gyori

This not so; Hung. merely lacks masculine-feminine. It most definitly
distinguishes persons and things, and animals are made one or the other.
First of all, there are "ki" (who) and "mi" (what), bare "az" (that) is used
not of persons but only things and ideas, and there is a (partitiv?) construct
for a counted subject that is persons:
 Ha'rman joettek.
 Threely came-they.
 Three (persons) came.
 Ha'rom joett.
 Three (things) came.
(An explicitly counted noun-phrase is always in the singular.)

As far as I know, gender that follows sex is restricted to IE and languages
akin to Arabic and Hebrew.

There are other gender-forms: Swahili distinguishes persons, animals, plants,
fruits, things, abstractions, and places.

There is another issu in the matter of gender, that is agreement and
declension. English and Hungarish hav only agreement, and declension is
independent of gender. In Polish there is a strong link between declension
and gender (and the link between gender and sex is weaker than in English).
In Latin, too, there is a strong link between declension and gender, but
weaker than in Polish. German is infamous for the weak, erratic link
between declension and gender, and gender and sex, even though there are.
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Message 3: Genderless languages

Date: Fri, 26 May 1995 07:58:31 Genderless languages
From: Roy Dace <DACEmtb.und.ac.za>
Subject: Genderless languages

Gabor Gyori writes:
> This phenomenon is not just science fiction. Hungarian has no gender
> specific pronouns, simply because it has no gender distinction at
> all. Does anyone know about similar languages? (As far as I know this
> goes for all Uralic and maybe also for the Turkic languages.)

Many of the so-called Bantu languages of sub-Saharan Africa have noun
classes which function like genders but which are not sex-based.
Thus in Zulu the words for "wife" and the honorific for men (more or
less "sir") belong to one noun class and therefor share the same
pronominal and adjectival- and verb-agreement morphemes. Similarly
the words for "chief", "chief's wife", "girlfriend" and "man" belong
to the same class and share another set of pronouns, etc.

Roy Dace
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Message 4: genderless pronouns

Date: Wed, 31 May 1995 21:29:53 genderless pronouns
From: Anton Sherwood <dashernetcom.com>
Subject: genderless pronouns

Ande Ciecierski wrote:
 I'm surprised no one has mentioned _Woman on the Edge of Time_ by
 Marge Piercy. In it, a woman travels to a future time in which there
 are no more gender-specific pronouns. . . .

and Gabor Gyori replied:
 This phenomenon is not just science fiction. Hungarian has no gender
 specific pronouns, simply because it has no gender distinction at
 all. Does anyone know about similar languages?

I've seen the Swahili "yeye" used somewhat frivolously by science fiction
fans (including Damon Knight, if memory serves). Unfortunately, Swahili
hasn't really got pronouns outside the nominative case!

 disclaimer: the above is likely to refer to anecdotal evidence.
Anton Sherwood *\\* +1 415 267 0685 *\\* DAShernetcom.com
 Stranger things have happened.
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