https://www.duolingo.com/profile/monzac

Gender assignment in French

The linked episode of ABCRN show, Lingua Franca, consists of a 'fantastically nutted out explication of why some words are categorised as masculine, and others as feminine, in French', by Dr Margaret à Beckett. http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/linguafranca/gender-assignment-in-french/3790838

September 5, 2012

7 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Rinranryan

Very interesting

September 5, 2012

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

I am less enthusiastic about this Dr Margaret theses. The example with the goose (une oie) is relatively weak, since there is indeed a masculine noun for male geese : un jars.

September 6, 2012

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/monzac

@Sitesurf I'll have to listen to it again and get back to you :)

September 6, 2012

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

Another comment, looking at the transcript again, about minuit. It probably started as a feminine noun (= la-demi-nuit), but it has not become masculine, since minuit is an adverb : "à minuit", idem for "à midi". You may hear people say "le midi" (to mean lunchtime), but it is not correct.

September 6, 2012

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/monzac

@Sitesurf re 'masculine noun for male geese', à Beckett is speaking of the generic or collective term used for various birds. In English the collective term tends to be the same as the female of the breed, whereas in French it tends to be the same as the male of the breed. She is not saying that there are not masculine and feminine terms for each animal.

September 7, 2012

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Sitesurf

That is quite right with probably historical and above all etymological reasons. Now, most certainly Dr à Beckett should have search back to the first noun given to any bird in its original language to investigate either why it was masculine or feminine in the first place or why it has become masculine or feminine in current usage. When it comes to the 'oie', its latin noun was 'auca', which was feminine. So why did the latin name chosen was feminine in the first place remains unsolved...

September 7, 2012

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/monzac

That's the topic for a further thesis :D

September 7, 2012
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