"The beef is mine."
Translation:Is liomsa an mhairteoil.
If a steak is on my plate next to a baked potato, how can I tell if it’s male or female?
Okay, that’s not really my question...but it made me laugh. Well, I chuckled. Fine, I only grinned a little. I don’t have much of a sense of humor.
I also don’t have a sense of whether seemingly gender-neutral things (like beef) have a sex. I get why the cow or bull would, but not the food. It hasn’t yet clicked in my “old dog” brain that beef is feminine, yet a crab is masculine.
Is there a way to know which is which, or is it kind of like English...full of exceptions to spelling rules?
If Irish is like German when it comes to grammatical gender, I fear there are no hard rules, maybe some hints. As a native German speaker I can assure you that there are even a few words (really not many though) in German, where any grammatical gender is possible for the same word, depending on regional preference. It just has nothing to do with biological sex - well at least not in general, that is. Mostly biological sex does correlate to grammatical gender, but there are exceptions. For instance diminuitive overrules that. It requires neutral gender, hence "das Mädchen"/"the girl" is grammatically neutral in German because of the suffix "chen" which is a diminuitive of the older grammatically female form "die Maid"/"the (young) woman" which is almost extinct though (practically used in poetry only, if at all).
It's an emphatic suffix, and one of the places that emphatic suffixes are used is in Irish constructions that translate English possessive pronouns (Irish doesn't have possessive pronouns).
Is liomsa é - "It's mine"
Cá bhfuil mo cheannsa? - "Where's mine?"