If I say, "יש לי ציפור" I gather that sentence doesn't imply the gender of my bird one way or another (however, when pairing an adjective with the bird, as in "יש לי ציפור קטנה", I would want to use a female adjective form, is that correct?) So if the word ציפור is feminine, how would one specify the gender of a particular bird in question? Is there a way to change the form of the word to reflect the gender of a given bird without actually including "זחר"or "נקבה" in the sentence?
Yes, that was my thought process as well, but I wasn't certain if there was another alternative I was missing. Thanks for replying! As a continuation of this question, assuming that we would indeed want to include either נקבה or זכר, how would one conjugate the word ציפור in either context of gender? Since adjectives are supposed to match the noun for gender (hence saying כלב נקבה would be inaccurate, and although ordinarily I realize one would simply say כלבה, I suspect it would be more grammatically correct to say כלבה נקבה - despite the redundancy), how would one refer to a given male bird? Saying ציפור זכר doesn't seem right, if ציפור is a feminine noun, but is there a better way to go about it?
I realize I'm picking at details here - סליחה! I'm just quite interested in learning more particulars of the language, especially when it comes to "irregular" nouns such as this one. תובה! :)
I'm actually not sure if there are strict rules here.. the problem is not too common, I don't think. But I'd say that ציפור זכר or ציפור ממין זכר sounds fairly OK, and then you could use masculine verbs/adjectives to describe it. Or feminine, probably either would be alright. :-)
This word is ancient and is feminine in classical Hebrew and in Aramaic. However, that the word does not present as feminine has always caused problems. It's unclear to me whether the -im ending means it presents as masc or is actually masc in the plural. The DCH (Dictionary of Classical Hebrew, 7.148), for instance, states that the noun is masc. and fem., which may be the way of that dictionary's editor (David Clines) of noting that the lack of feminine presentation caused some ancient authors to get confused, but I have not looked into the matter extensively. The Comprehensive Aramaic Lexicon project also assigns the Aramaic form as masc. and fem.: http://cal.huc.edu/ Long story short, if you are confused by its morphology you stand in a long line. Cf. Dalit Rom-Shiloni, “Birds in the Bible,” Blackbird Project: Educational Cooperation between Arab and Jewish Students in Birding (ed. Yossi Leshem and Anat Levi; Tel Aviv, 2009), 72–83.