samedi 7 août 2010

Introduction to noun gender in French

Excellent post about gender By Jon Vellner

[...] In English, a bee is a bee and a tree is a tree, but in French a tree is a he and a bee is a she.
This idea of all nouns having a gender is not unique to the French language, but it is certainly new to native speakers of English. Noun genders actually exist in most if not all European languages with the exception of English. In fact, you should count yourself lucky that French only has two genders, as some languages, like German and Russian for instance, have a third.

[...]Just because the sun is masculine in French, doesn't mean it has guy parts, and just because the moon is feminine doesn't mean it has "stay out of my way" days. It also doesn't imply anything about the hiddendeep down sexuality of a noun, like “ok, so the sun doesn't have guy parts... but he always wanted them, you know... he didn't ask to be born in this body, right?... oh, once he gets the money...”. I think that's far enough for the sexuality jokes... Hopefully that last paragraph was at least mildly amusing, and no more than mildly offensive. But, more importantly I hope I made my point sufficiently clear: “The gender of a noun has nothing to do with its shape, use, texture, colour, whether it pees standing up or sitting down, or even whether or not it likes Twilight.”

[...] Now, imagine a city divides all it's citizens into two groups. At first, there seems to be no apparent logic to their sorting. Religion? Race? Age? Sex? Social status? Marital status? Musical preference? Eye colour? IQ? I give up!
[...] In our imaginary scenario we were looking too hard. We assume that a city might divide people based on some kind of demographic.
[...] What a surprise when we find out that the two groups had actually been divided based on the last letter of their last name.

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