The two gender thing is at least old, SAOB tells us that blick is common gender, masculine or neuter, the latter is marked as archaic, but they give examples like (1738: ett nådes blick), RINMAN 1: 232 (1788: Silfverblicket) alongside with common gender examples from the same time.
It's suggested that the old neuter usage may have been the effect of the influence of the word blek/bleck (noun blek 1, archaic word no longer used this way).
Probably both genders for blick existed alongside each other, and then neuter got stuck to ögonblick and common gender won the rest of the field. It's not that strange that a more abstract compound where the meaning of 'look' is to a large extent lost, could have another gender.
I wonder if, also, they may have gained ground in Swedish at different occasions - with e.g. German and Danish using different genders for them, that might affect how they ended up.
That's a very good question! I have searched for an answer too, but haven't found anything substantial. I am pretty sure that it does not have anything to do with the gender of "öga" though. For example, compare to:
en ögonfrans - an eyelash
By the way, someone said that the genders differ in Dutch ("blik" and "ogenblik") as well. I don't speak Dutch myself, so I don't know if it is correct :).
Not according to my Dutch dictionary. "Blik" meaning "look" is male as is "ogenblik". However there is a separate noun "blik" meaning "can" or "tin" (German "Blech" rather than "Blick") which is a het-word.
Are you confusing gender for "en" and "ett" words? There are three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter. Swedish hardly uses any of these genders, just like English.
No, that's not right. Swedish has grammatical genders: common and neuter. We usually refer to the common gender as en-words, and to the neuter gender as ett-words.
Old Swedish used to have three genders, like you say, but the feminine and masculine merged many centuries ago - hence why the resulting combined gender is called the common.
I meant to say that grammar recognizes three genders. Latin, for example, has three genders. I did not mean to say that Swedish has three genders.
Thank you for clarifying that "en" and "ett" words are a form of gender classification. Of course, this form of gender classification is very different from that in the romance languages.
Well, when does a word combination ever takes the gender of the word at the start, if we would try to seperate it into two, we would translate at "a gaze of eyes" or to make it sound nicer, "a gaze of an eye", but in any case "ögon" is just a complement to "blick".
Your examples are English, in Swedish the word starts with 'Ögon' så it might become more importent in Swedish eyes, especially in this case where the eyes are the 'subject' of the action, so to speak :-)
Excuse me, but that's how combined words work in every european language where there are some. In Swedish as well, it's pretty much always the case, it has nothing to do with the subject of the action, it's all about what is the word we're defining. Compound words are not magic, they have a logic behind them, and that logic is that you add a word at the start of another to complete the second one. My examples might as well have been in Swedish, in Swedish the compound word doesn't take the gender of the subject of the action .
I also have an Italian example: basketball = la pallacanestro. Words ending in -o is usually masculin (il), but ball = la palla, and basket = il canestro. "La palla" in the beginning 'won the game", so to speak. Anything can happen in language! That's why I love languages. :-)
It seems very odd to me to say "gazes" in English. It is far more natural to say "his gaze makes me weak," but I suppose it's translated this way to be an exact translation of the swedish...
Yes, this sounds completely wrong in English. 'His gaze makes me weak.' would be ok though. Gazes is usually used as a verb - 'He gazes at me' for example. When it is used as a noun it is usually singular - 'gaze'
No, not at all. It refers exclusively to what he does with his eyes.