How can you tell the gender of an obscure place?
If there is a place name that is very obscure, and perhaps has never been written about in French, is there a way to try and predict the proper gender, or should a gender just be picked at random and stuck with?
Names of countries ending in e except le Mexique are feminine. Countries ending in any other letter than e are masculine. A brand new country would follow the same rule.
Whoops - since my mother's paper text book was printed in 1944 some other exceptions have been added: le Belize (Belize) le Mexique (Mexico) le Mozambique (Republic of Mozambique) le Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe) le Zaïre (Republic of Zaire) le Cambodge (Cambodia)
Dondy18, thank you for the helpful rule, and I just love that you found it in your mother's textbook from 1944, and that you're also telling us about more recent updates! This made my day! :-)
Added and removed. Le Zaïre is nowadays known as la république démocratique du Congo.
My guess is that it is the same as with verbs, the more obscure it is to the French, the more likely it is to follow the rules (so -e = feminine etc.). If no one ever mentions the place, no one is going to remember that it should be an exception and they will assign a regular gender for it.
Probably because "México" in Spanish is masculine (even though they don't use gender for countries as much as French does).
It is because of all this gender business that I have totally gone off learning French!! A chair is a chair... it doesn't have a vagina!! Good luck :)