Communications and signal processing Engineering - M.
In most linguists' definitions, gender is a noun category with consequences: The word gender is cognate with genre and genus. The Latin word genus is a third-declension noun, as one can tell from the genitive singular form generis.
Most of the words derived from it are based on the root gener- and have nothing in principle necessarily to do with sex. There are indications that what eventually became the feminine gender first arose to distinguish abstract nouns.
The distinction between animate and inanimate is a widespread basis for categorizing nouns. It is the only general distinction among nouns in Basque. Animate and inanimate objects tend to segregate into different classes with, of course, some exceptions.
The reconstruction of PIE is based on comparisons of and inferences from daughter languages, so conversely one may describe various features of the daughter languages as being reflexes of the original. It is awkward, however, for a noun not to have a gender, since its gender is needed to determine the appropriate form of adjectives agreeing with it.
What one does see, however, are coincidences of form in different gender. For example, in Latin as in the other classical languagesnouns and adjectives fall into different well-defined groups called declensions, and the rules according to which they are inflected to indicate number and case depend on the declension.
They may also depend on the gender. However, nouns of the third declension have identical inflections for male and female, and the fourth-declension inflections are independent of gender. The interpretation given to these facts is that gender in the latter case, and male-female distinction in the former, were not reflected in the morphology because they did not exist when at least some of the paradigmatic words in those inflections assumed their established forms.
The Indo-European language families with the largest numbers of speakers in Europe and the Americas are the Slavic, Italic, and Germanic. The Slavic languages generally retain three genders.
Extant members of the Italic group are all descendants of Latin.
Although Latin had three genders, its daughter languages have generally collapsed the system down to masculine and feminine, with the old neuter nouns coalescing into the masculine group.
The principal exception, not surprisingly, is Romanian, which still has three genders. Languages of the Germanic group have gone various ways, with German at one extreme preserving three IE genders, and English at the other discarding the concept entirely.
English preserves semantic gender, which is explicit primarily in third-person personal pronouns. Nevertheless, a very common kind of grammatical gender is sex, and many people conflate the two. It seems like Victorian avoidance of the word sex, and to some extent it probably is, but there are tortured arguments for this use of the word, having to do with the claim that much of what we might call sexual difference is really socially constructed just like the linguistic distinction among genders.
My counterclaim is that the distinction -- between natural sexual differences on the one hand and culturally determined differences correlated with sex on the other -- can never be completely sharp, and are not competently distinguished in practice. Anyway, back to grammar. It is often the case that diminutives are classed as neuter, even when they have a natural gender.
In German, for example, diminutives can be constructed by appending the suffix -chen or -lein or in Southern dialects, including the Silesia of my mother's childhood -el -le in Swabian. All these diminutives are neuter.
Neuter diminutives are a widespread and ancient phenomenon. This must occasionally have helped avoided some embarrassment. The final sigma here occurs only in the nom. The noun root paid- is used to construct the other inflected forms -- plurals and the singulars of the other three cases, sc.Feminist theory is the extension of feminism into theoretical, fictional, or philosophical discourse.
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