Re: Gender in language

Kathryn Aegis (
Tue, 24 Mar 1998 19:10:32 +0000

Kick Graybull:
>Sorry, but English inherited *none* of its grammatical structure from
>either Latin or Greek, <snip>

Sorry, but I took three solid years of linguistic and grammatic
theory at university, and I doubt that our professors and our
textbooks were making up facts. Up until partway through 16c English
relied upon Germanic grammatical structures until a few
cultural heavyweights on the British islands decided that enlightened
and civilized humans spoke Latin, and therefore set up new
grammatical rules for English that relied upon Latin grammatical
structures, with some vestiges of German. In modern form, much of
the tripartite gender structure has fallen away. We tend not to
consider objects as having any sort of gender.

As for references, any good English dictionary gives the period in
which a word entered the language, and many dictionaries base that
information on the OED. As I look up the word 'man', I discover
that the entymology has a break in it (ME, from OE, akin to OHG),
meaning that it fell out of use in Old English and was revived into
the language in the Middle English period. My Shakespeare and
Chaucer concordances indicate a variety of meanings in use at the
time, not just the one.


Kathryn Aegis