[b-hebrew] [B-Greek] Gender

Kevin Riley klriley at alphalink.com.au
Mon May 21 22:31:30 EDT 2007

-------Original Message------- 
From: Randall Buth 
Date: 21/05/2007 5:05:45 PM 
My understanding is that there are many multi-gender languages with 
Men and women together. Iver can correct me, since I never spoke 
Swahili, but I think that people,men, women, and children all went 
Into the same grammatical gender class. I speak a Nilo-Saharan 
Language that is not only mono-noun-class, it is mono-pronoun with 
One pronoun for he-she-it. 
Randall Buth 
Yes, there are languages with men and women in the same class - any language
with a "human" class will do that.  I was wondering how common it is, and if
there is any pattern to it.  I tried to find information on Australian
languages with noun classes, but could not find that specific info.  As the
genders are almost all [AFAIK] based on generic qualifiers [like the Asian
classifiers] and some include a word for 'human', and some for 'human woman'
it is possible that not all distinguish men and women in terms of gender. 
Perhaps we cannot understand gender simply as a universal construct, but
need to take into account how it arises.  One explanation of why all birds
are feminine in one language was that birds are really the spirits of women,
therefore all birds, whatever their sex, are feminine.  All other non-human
animates, regardless of their sex, are masculine.  A division into masculine
 feminine, neuter and edible non-flesh food classes complicates a comparison
with Greek :) .  I still think the best course with Greek is to stress that
grammatical gender has no direct relationship with sex.  
Kevin Riley

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