samedi 15 mai 2010

Loss of Gender in English

Dave Wilton, Thursday, May 13, 2010

Unlike most other Indo-European languages, English, for the most part, doesn’t have grammatical genders (i.e., inflecting nouns, pronouns, and adjectives as either masculine, feminine, or neuter). French, for example, has two genders (m. and f.); German has three. But the only English words that are inflected for gender are the third-person, singular pronouns (he, she, it), and the gender of these, with a few exceptions, corresponds to biological gender of the referent. (The primary exceptions are personification of inanimate objects, such as referring to ships or one’s country asshe, and the use of it to refer to animals where the sex is not known or immaterial.) But English was not always like this.

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