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  5. "A saia dele é branca."

"A saia dele é branca."

Translation:His skirt is white.

September 2, 2013

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So the translation for A saia dele é branca is HIS skirt is white? because of "dele" Seriously? As if we are not challenged enough, we have to second-guess trans-gender solutions?


The funny thing is that in a previous lesson they listed "I do not wear a skirt because I am a man".


Understand: this is a language that has dress and egg as masculine nouns.

Everything goofy about English is forgiven for the invention of "the", "a", and "an". Here's a language that knows THE TABLE HAS NO GENDER.


Grammatical gender has nothing to do with social gender in humans or with biological sex, so I don't think any speakers of romance languages think inanimate objects have a gender in that sense. It's just a grammatical system that happens to intersect with gender but it's not ascribing masculinity or femininity on objects, those words are purely grammatical categories unless you're actually talking about men or women. German has three genders, and languages like Swahili have like nine or so noun "categories" which is basically the same thing as linguistic gender... there are just a lot more of them.


...so I don't think any speakers of romance languages think inanimate objects have a gender in that sense.

Turns out it does have an effect:


In recent years, various experiments have shown that grammatical genders can shape the feelings and associations of speakers toward objects around them. In the 1990s, for example, psychologists compared associations between speakers of German and Spanish. There are many inanimate nouns whose genders in the two languages are reversed. A German bridge is feminine (die Brücke), for instance, but el puente is masculine in Spanish; and the same goes for clocks, apartments, forks, newspapers, pockets, shoulders, stamps, tickets, violins, the sun, the world and love. On the other hand, an apple is masculine for Germans but feminine in Spanish, and so are chairs, brooms, butterflies, keys, mountains, stars, tables, wars, rain and garbage. When speakers were asked to grade various objects on a range of characteristics, Spanish speakers deemed bridges, clocks and violins to have more “manly properties” like strength, but Germans tended to think of them as more slender or elegant. With objects like mountains or chairs, which are “he” in German but “she” in Spanish, the effect was reversed.

In a different experiment, French and Spanish speakers were asked to assign human voices to various objects in a cartoon. When French speakers saw a picture of a fork (la fourchette), most of them wanted it to speak in a woman’s voice, but Spanish speakers, for whom el tenedor is masculine, preferred a gravelly male voice for it. More recently, psychologists have even shown that “gendered languages” imprint gender traits for objects so strongly in the mind that these associations obstruct speakers’ ability to commit information to memory.

More at the article.


I agree with what you're saying here. You are absolutely correct in your explanation but, at the same time, I cannot understand the whole point of inanimate objects having grammatical gender. This system seems to complicate the language for some mysterious reason that is not apparent to me! NB. this is meant to respond to MaxGonzale16's comment above : "Grammatical gender has nothing to do with social gender....." Unless in the correct order some of the comments in a discussion stream don't always make sense! I have noticed that sometimes, when I have responded to a certain comment, this doesn't necessarily appear directly below the relevant comment, which I would think it should.


That's not the attitude you should go into language learning with. Is grammatical gender useless? It seems like it is. But does it exist in a lot of languages despite how unnecessary it seems? You bet, and it you're learning a language with it then it's better to get used to it and learn how to work with it than focusing on how illogical it seems. And always remember, it's arbitrary grammatical categories, they're not somehow implying that tables are womanly and forks are manly.


.......Excellent Answer, I've 20Years of schooling,and have learned pneumonic devices; sometimes the More Absured, the better retention!!! Obligado,pela tua resposta!!! :)


In response to MaxGonzale16, I would say, on the contrary. In my opinion there is nothing remotely at fault with wondering about details of language and its development. I find it fascinating. It certainly doesn't indicate being focused on the wrong aspect, as you remarked. For instance, linguistics and etymology are just other dimensions of language learning. Being interested in the way languages have evolved doesn't mean that I don't accept the result, including the use of gender in, as you point out, many European languages. However, I am not prepared to slavishly learn by rote the gender of every noun in whatever language I am tackling. I believe in learning by the immersion technique. As a Briton, I speak very basic German fairly fluently, which has three genders to cope with. Tending to speak by feel, as children do, I just use whichever gender and case seems to sound right. Sometimes it happens to be correct, sometimes not, but the most important thing is that practice makes perfect. Duolingo is the next best thing to actively holding conversations with native speakers. NB.This is intended to respond to MaxGonzale16's comment "That's not the attitude....." which has now moved down the list. see below.


At least it is not German where girl and child are neuter.


In German the suffix -chen make any noun neuter, even names, even male names - Hänschen, Fritzchen, etc.


What's wrong with the word for "child" being neuter?


Yes! That's what I was going to write! Perhaps this one is to balance things out.


DELE (as possessive) is always his...there is nothing to guess. (Actually, in some countries men do wear skirts). As suas saias = his/her/their skirts. Here it has more than one meaning that you guess through the context.


I didn't mean to be insensitive or un-PC. I just took this dang unit like ten times and the last time was nearly there when I missed HIS skirt was white. Threw me over the top. .. .while it does make sense and all, I just wish some of the sentences were not so tricky. We're all learning. And at this stage, I think it is a little foul to throw in tricky questions like that.


Afoita's right. Brownie points to this tool for trying to dish out unconventional and unexpected sentences, however, these always catch you off guard if you are already focusing like mad on getting the grammar and syntax right. But who knows, it may turn out to be an excellent exercise for making your mind more flexible.




There has been no grammar or syntax just yet. At this point, your primary task is to memorise words, such "dele". If you're getting it wrong than you haven't studied enough.


It's not Duolingo's fault that your biases cause you to find this unexpected.


This is why i do not actively study grammar. If you listen to enough of the language, learn full sentences, you will start to notice what kinds of sentences use certain words. It's a hell of a lot easier than trying to remember it all. Think about how you use English, you don't think in your head about which tenses or words to use, you just say what sounds right. And honestly many native English speakers make mistakes every now and then with their grammar, so although not impossible, I think its a huge unnecessary burden to try to "master" the grammar of another language by thinking about it. Just read and listen to enough natives and you will pick up on what "sounds" proper.


Carl, I like your attitude. It is also the way children learn.


Oh ❤❤❤❤ off. Of course men can wear skirts. Grow the ❤❤❤❤ up. Ironic that you support Anonymous while being an authoritarian conservative wastebrain.


Men wear skirts in Scotland!!


Those are not skirts, they're kilts and don't ever tell a Scotsman it's a skirt! :p


They may look like skirts but they're certainly never white!!


Old Norse "kyalta" - a skirt. But I still won't argue it out with a Scot - good advice.


Pretty sure there are men that wear skirts in every country. . . Very common in hotter climates: India, Southeast Asia throughout Africa and the middle east, pants are not necessarily the norm!


Even though I just started Portuguese a few days ago it was very obvious to me that dele meant his. Why are you so bitter about not having grasped that yet that you feel the need to ❤❤❤❤❤ about transpersons? Women can wear pants and men should be able to wear skirts in an equal world.


Since many males in different cultures still wear skirts, there are many possible alternatives to yours. Thinking of countries like the middle east or maybe scotland..


I'm just gonna be that guy and say that if the person wearing the skirt here is a transgender person it would still be "dela." Just saying. Pronouns, people.


And if it's not a transgendered person?

[deactivated user]

    Wait, this is top comment?

    • 199

    As Portugal and Spain have once been conquered by the Arabs, or Muslims to be precise, for a long time until the Reconquista, some Islamic traditions have influenced Iberian culture. There is a traditional Arab dance performed by men wearing skirts which is called the Tanoura. Hence this it is not that far fledged and has nothing to do with transgender ... although you could argue that there quiet some transgenders in Brazil nowadays.

    Nevertheless it's quiet a neat trick to always pay attention, instead of just typing what's at the top of your mind.


    Just saying, if this sentence is about a transgender person it would still be "dela."


    It doesn't have to be about a transgendered person.


    That's the point. A man can wear a skirt, so it would be "his skirt." If it WAS about a trans-woman, it would be "her" rather than "his." Also there's no "-ed" on "transgender person."


    In English, the word you want is quite, as opposed to quiet, which means to be silent


    I am quite sure he knows the difference - two mixed letters is usually just a typo.


    The pauliteiros, which are traditionally groups of male dancers, in Tras os Montes in north-east Portugal perform their dances dressed in white lacey skirts.



    That is also where the other official language, Mirandese is spoken.



    Though I think lace-trimmed skirts is more descriptive than lacy in this case. :)



    Yes, Mirandese is definitely a minority language. I have heard it spoken and have heard bands local to the area singing in Mirandese. You are probably right that mostly the white skirts of the pauliteiros are lace-trimmed but I have seen some that had a lot more lace than just trimming on the edges. They looked very frilly, hence lacy! NB. I spelt it wrongly in the first instance! Correct spelling is lacy.


    Interesting. Makes me want to go see them now. I've been to Tras os Montes twice so far, once for the Grelos Festival & Carnival in Podence.

    Thank you for the explanation, and lure. :)


    I was so happy that they used "HIS skirt". It's about time people learn that clothes have no gender. It's just a piece of cloth!


    Every noun in Portuguese has a gender. A saia (fem), o vestido (masc).


    Reading the comments actually spiced up the learning experiences lol


    I tried saying "The skirt of his is white" but that was marked wrong. Isn't that the literal translation?


    They use "dele" because "sua" can also mean "yours" and they want to clarify that it's "his," not yours. But in English it would mean "his skirt is white," the other translation would be awkward.


    It should be correct, yes.


    Possessive pronouns don't decline based on clothing type you stupid ❤❤❤❤❤.


    These tricky/unexpected sentences are there precisely to train your mind to translate properly and not just guess, I guess :-D


    Exactly. And to teach you actually how much you are learning about the new language. If you ever actually need to speak the language you run out of predetermined sentences really quickly. But Duo teaches you to get the most out of what is a very limited vocabulary.

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