mardi 27 juillet 2010

French language: The use of le, la and les

Good staff from this article

1. Nice remark about the Latin origin of French gender (Learn more about it)

If you are a Latin scholar it may be useful for you to know that 90% of French nouns retain their Latin gender and where Latin nouns were of the third gender, neuter, these have almost all become masculine in modern French.

2. Quite complete list of nouns groups (Learn more about it)

Masculine Nouns Groups
(colours, Days of the Week, Months, Seasons, Points of the compass, Languages, Definite male animals and people: l'homme, le chien (dog)(but la chienne for a bitch), le taureau (bull), Metals: le fer (iron), l'argent (silver)

Also the following are invariably masculine: Trees, shrubs, weights and measures.

Feminine Nouns Groups
(Definite female animals and people, The Arts, The Sciences)

Not so good staff

1. No mention of final e being a reliable feminine ending. Only briefly mentioned for countries and cities (Learn more about it)

The names of countries and cities ending in e are feminine: la France. But: le Canada and Paris are masculine. ?????

2. As expected no mention of -ion, -son and ité being feminine suffixes which explains why avion and poisson cannot be feminine (They don't derive from those suffixes) (learn more about it)

Gender Determination by Word Ending
Reliable Feminine endings are ion, -son, -té, tié. Common exceptions include: l'avion, le camion, le poisson.

Most eur endings which refer to a person are masculine, otherwise they are usually feminine (la fleur). But there are exceptions such as le Coeur (heart) which have to be learned.

Apart from the endings mentioned above nouns ending in a, e', i, o, u and y are masculine.

Ray COOK ends with a very optimistic statement:
If you learn these rules you will be correct most of the time.

Effect of grammatical gender on visual word recognition: Evidence from lexical decision and eye movement experiments

PASCALE COLÉ, University of Savoie and C.N.R.S., Chambéry, France
JOËL PYNTE, C.N.R.S. and University of Provence, Provence, France
PASCALE ANDRIAMAMONJY, University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis, Nice, France

Perception & Psychophysics, 2003, 65 (3), 407-419

Lexical decision times and eye movements were recorded to determine whether grammatical gender can influence the visual recognition of isolated French nouns.

This issue was investigated by assessing the use of two types of regularities between a noun’s form and its gender—namely ending-to-gender regularities (e.g., the final letter sequence -at appears only in masculine nouns and, thus, is predictive of masculine gender) and gender-to-ending regularities (e.g., feminine gender would predict the final letter e, whereas masculine gender would not). Previous studies have shown that noun endings are used by readers when they have to identify gender.

However, the influence of ending-to-gender predictiveness has never been investigated in a lexical decision task, and the effect of gender-to-ending regularities has never been evaluated at all.

The results suggest that gender information can influence both the activation stage (Experiments 1 and 3) and the selection stage (Experiments 2 and 3) of the word recognition process.

vendredi 16 juillet 2010

Pluriel des noms en -ou

Viens mon chou, mon bijou, mon joujou, sur mes genoux, et jette des cailloux à ce ripou de hibou plein de poux.

pour se souvenir des mots qui finissent en " ou" prennant un "x" au pluriel

Gender bla bla bla

One more BLA BLA BLA article about gender in French!

THEY just keep on repeating themselves and others before them, over and over again ... Do THEY ever try to have a look at what is behind the fence or outside the box?

I'm so tired of those empty articles...that I decided to collect them.

The first website is LOVE TO KNOW FRENCH and the page is called Free French Noun Gender List. We are so lucky it is free!

In there, you will find a list of 6 endings presented as "Commun French Gender Rule"! and a list of 30 nouns (randomly presented) with the definite article.

Not a word about THE most important and real Gender Rule: marked nouns are feminine!

mercredi 14 juillet 2010

80% of all nouns are rule governed...Yes! I knew it !

ROY LYSTER, McGill University, 2005

Predictability in French gender attribution: A corpus analysis


This article presents a corpus analysis designed to determine the extent to which noun endings in French are reliable predictors of grammatical gender.

A corpus of 9,961 nouns appearing in Le Robert Junior Illustr´e was analysed according to noun endings, which were operationalised as orthographic representations of rhymes, which consist of either a vowel sound (i.e., a nucleus) in the case of vocalic endings or a vowel-plus-consonant blend (i.e., a nucleus and a coda) in the case of consonantal endings.

The analysis classified noun endings as reliably masculine, reliably feminine, or ambiguous, by considering as reliable predictors of grammatical gender any noun ending that predicts the gender of least 90 per cent of all nouns in the corpus with that ending.

Results reveal that 81 per cent of all feminine nouns and 80 per cent of all masculine nouns in the corpus are rule governed, having endings that systematically predict their gender.

These findings, at odds with traditional grammars, are discussed in terms of their pedagogical implications.

samedi 10 juillet 2010

Gender attribution of foreign learners


Assignment of Grammatical Gender by Native Speakers and Foreign Learners of French.

Applied Psycholinguistics, v20 n4 p479-506 Dec 1999

Compared the skill in gender attribution of foreign learners and native speakers of French. Accuracy and fluency of gender attribution by the foreign learners were assessed in spontaneous written production.

Gender non-sens

I wish I could answer Cenobite questions about the use of having genders in languages...

What one could venture to say is that a language reflects a specific culture and the vision of the surrounding world that its people have.

Through gender, we can see that English has a strong "human vs. non-human" vision of the environment. Humans are treated as very special entities in this environment (he/she vs. it). On one side, human beings and eventually some animals strongly connected to them, and on the other side, the rest of the universe (Not a very well balanced split).

Does knowing that English is "human-centered" tell us anything about how English speakers see the world or society? I wish I knew.

French splits the surrounding world into female and male entities disregarding their human or non-human nature or even their living or non-living nature. French applies to non-human entities the same rule it uses to differentiate men from women. (girls, ants, shoes and sciences all belong to the same female side). At least in French, the whole content of the Universe is split into two equal parts. What does that mean or tell us about French speakers vision of the world and society?

Could it be that there is a link between the linguistic and sociological vision of the outside world? Let's pretend there is...

English society is a communitarian society (foreigners are given the opportunity and even encouraged to live their foreign-way of life inside the Kingdom) where as French society is an integrative society (Foreigners are given the opportunity or, should I say, are strongly advised to live the French way and give up their foreign way of life on the French territory). On one side of the Channel, foreigners and locals live side by side but separate lives (English vs non-English), and on the other side of la Manche, foreigners are integrated, merged whether they like it or not, with the French, just like in the case of gender : humans, animals, things, concept, ideas...all mixed together as one, no as two : masculine and feminine.

This does not make much sense, right? In French we say: C'est tiré par les cheveux. Don't blame me. I told you from the start: Gender non-sens.


I was always fond of French nouns that began with a vowel, because then I didn’t have to remember the gender of the word.
I suck at remembering the gender of words. I have a difficult enough time remembering the gender of some of the people I know, never mind nouns and articles. I think été is feminine.

Admittedly, that words can have gender is an aspect of language that has never made any sense to me. Partly because it’s so seemingly random (in French, the majority of nouns that end in the letter e are feminine in gender and the majority of nouns that do *not* end in e are masculine. In Polish, most feminine nouns end in a), and partly because I don’t understand the need for it. What makes a carpet masculine and a table feminine? Why are mice feminine (can the ’shrew’ comments here) and ceilings masculine? I mean, *why*? What’s the *point* of grammatical gender?

jeudi 1 juillet 2010

Dictionaries vs lexicon

Another Bellows innovation was to print all the masculine French headwords in Roman font and the feminine ones in italics. Thus gender information was conveyed instantly, without need to look for an m. or f. label. But how is grammatical gender coded in the lexicon? I notice, for instance, that some French speakers, when asked whether a word is masculine or feminine, reply by associating it with the definite article: la dent, le fleuve. In other cases, words themselves have a ‘flavour’ that informs implicitly: for instance, that a word ending in the sound -sion is feminine.

Le dictionnaire français-anglais de John Bellows (1831-1902)