Jerusalem, neuter plural

peter_kirk at peter_kirk at
Fri Sep 3 12:27:21 EDT 1999

An interesting question, Joe, and I don't have any real answers. But 
you may be interested in the Russian convention for borrowed place 
names, as used extensively in places like Azerbaijan. In general (and 
with some oversimplification) place names ending in a consonant are 
masculine, those ending in -a are feminine, those ending in -e and -o 
are neuter, those ending in -i are plural (in Russian, gender is not 
distinguished in the plural). These are the normal default rules for 
Russian common nouns, and the place names then decline as if they were 
Russian nouns. But place names ending in -u (e.g. Baku) do not match 
any Russian noun classes and so are treated as undeclinable, and I 
think masculine.

The rules are slightly different for personal names as the name must 
have the same gender as the person. Personal names of men ending in -a 
can be masculine (though they decline as if feminine - many native 
Russian names follow this pattern), but womens' names ending in a 
consonant are undeclinable, presumably because the regular declension 
of nouns ending in a consonant implies masculine gender. Personal 
names ending in -e and -o are also taken as undeclinable, I believe.

Peter Kirk

----- Original Message -----
From: Jim West <jwest at Highland.Net>
To: Biblical Greek <b-greek at>
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 1999 4:08 PM
Subject: Re: Jerusalem, neuter plural


The original question is still a good one.  Why does the name come in 
neuter (or feminine), and why the alternatives between and

Are there linguistic universals at play?  I am aware of some studies
regarding the *phonology* of borrowed words/names, but know of none 
respect to the *morphology*, so, does anyone have that answer?

Joe Friberg
Arlington, TX

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