LINGUIST List 6.829

Thu 22 Jun 1995

Disc: Genderless lgs

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. Alexis Manaster Ramer, Genderless ?
  2. paul manansala, Re: Genderless
  3. Jan K Lindstrom, Genderless lgs

Message 1: Genderless ?

Date: Sat, 17 Jun 1995 20:04:04 Genderless ?
From: Alexis Manaster Ramer <amrCS.Wayne.EDU>
Subject: Genderless ?

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In some languages which are standarly described as genderless
it is still the case, I am pretty sure, that people say things
like 'that woman' instead of 'she' and because this looks like
a purely lexical matter, the appearance of genderlessness is
preserved. I wonder if this applies to the languages recently
described as genderless on this list.
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Message 2: Re: Genderless

Date: Sun, 18 Jun 1995 09:19:37 Re: Genderless
From: paul manansala <>
Subject: Re: Genderless

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You wrote:

)Most of the genderless languages are SOV and their morphology is
)"agglutinative", in traditional typological terms.
)The realisation of gender tends to be tied closely to the realisation
)morphological case in the world's languages


I agree that most genderless languages tend to be agglutinative, but
not SOV. The Austro-Asiatic and Austronesian languages, for example,
contain many examples of non-SOV languages which are also genderless.
Many examples can also be found in Africa and the Native American
languages, which though agglutinative are not SOV.

Paul Kekai Manansala
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Message 3: Genderless lgs

Date: Mon, 19 Jun 95 11:28:23 +0Genderless lgs
From: Jan K Lindstrom <jklindstwaltari.Helsinki.FI>
Subject: Genderless lgs

Content-Length: 2009

Hi you gender people,

It may be that I have missed something that has been going on on the list.
If I understand right there has been some claim about that a language
totally lacking a gender system would be something of science fiction.
As the responses have shown, this is not definitely the case but an
Indo-European line of thinking of what are natural conceptual (grammatical ?)

Albert Ortmann, among others, made the point that e.g. Uralic languages
generally lack gender. This is a point in case in Finnish. The language
does not have any grammatical gender markers (in principle, no articles),
no division into male/female in the pronoun system and, in particular,
spoken Finnish does not make distinction between animate/inanimate.
Persons, animals, objects, ideas may be referred to with the pronoun "se".

Yet a slight comment to Ortmann's theory about case/gender. The point about
case being realized only once in an NP does not seem conceivable, at least
from Finnish point of view: attribute(s) AND Head must concord in case.

Hope this is of interest. And I could point out that I am no Uralic or
Fennic scholar but a native speaking linguist.

Best regards - Jan Lindstrom
 Dept. of Scandinavian lgs
 University of Helsinki
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