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  1. #11
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: gender of English nouns

    this personification of nouns realized through referring to them as "she" is a figure of speech of sorts or a peculiar term of endearment used to express tender feelings towards objects
    If you've ever worked on a cantankerous old car, you might see that the feelings do not always have to be "tender" in order to speak of her that way.

  2. #12
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: gender of English nouns

    [QUOTE=JarekSteliga;842306]
    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    I was very hesitant prior to opening this thread but am now nothing but pleased for having done so
    Even though, as a native speaker, I already "know" the rules around gender in English, I very much like reading about how non-native speakers understand and implement them. It helps to put in context how English is different than other languages. Also, it gives me the chance to review and reinforce what I already know, in a helpful and friendly atmosphere.

  3. #13
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: gender of English nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    I have learnt that English nouns are basicly genderless.
    [nat]

    Come to think of it, there are English words that have gender, but of course they have etymologies that support genders. Fiance (male) vs. fiancee (female) comes to mindI never put in accents. But, this seems more like gender pronouns (“he”, “she”) to me, because it's not an arbitrary distinction; the masculine form is used to describe a man, while the feminine form a woman.

  4. #14
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    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: gender of English nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by BobSmith View Post
    [nat]

    Come to think of it, there are English words that have gender, but of course they have etymologies that support genders. Fiance (male) vs. fiancee (female) comes to mindI never put in accents. But, this seems more like gender pronouns (“he”, “she”) to me, because it's not an arbitrary distinction; the masculine form is used to describe a man, while the feminine form a woman.
    As you say, there are specific words which can denote the gender of the person they're applied to, but that doesn't make the noun attached to that person masculine or feminine.

    fiancé/fiancée (for info, I always put the accent on the é)
    blond/blonde

    As you said though, they have etymologies which are gender-based. Both the examples above are from French.

  5. #15
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Default Re: gender of English nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by SoothingDave View Post
    If you've ever worked on a cantankerous old car, you might see that the feelings do not always have to be "tender" in order to speak of her that way.

    I suppose learners of a foreign language are always after some rule or another knowing full well that in the absence of any they face the formidable task of having to learn every single instance by heart.

    So let me have another shot at it and broaden the definition of situations in which an inanimate noun might be referred to as "he" or "she". Perhaps an ordinary inanimate noun is likely to be tinted with a feminine gender when it is strongly felt about (be the feeling good or bad). Also if I am not mistaken cyclones are given female names.

    If this my last attempt at putting a finger on it misfires I will chose to steer clear of the 'unchartered waters' in my (limited anyway) use of English.

  6. #16
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: gender of English nouns

    Yes, your new statement is better. I would still caution any learner to avoid using such gender references. It can easily sound like you are not aware that English doesn't normally work that way.

    And hurricanes (as cyclones are known in the Atlantic) are now named with alternating male and female names. They used to be all named for girls, but now we have to be politically correct.

  7. #17
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Default Re: gender of English nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post

    1. Reference to things in such a way has happened over a long period and are not even noticed by native speakers much of the time.

    2. If you wrote "How can I thank this forum for her existence?" most native speakers would see that as a basic error and would think that you believed that English nouns do actually have gender.

    3. In addition, you can't thank a forum. You can thank the members.

    1. From this particular remark one can conclude that 'reference to things in such a way' is based purely on native speaker's instinct and therefore the 'when' rule is quite impossible of definition.

    2. Point taken.

    3. It is my pleasure to thank the members of this FORUM for its existence.

  8. #18
    BobSmith is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: gender of English nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by JarekSteliga View Post
    learners ... are always after some rule

    rule: ships and cars. You'll be much better leaving it at that.

    an ordinary inanimate noun is likely to be tinted with a feminine gender when it is strongly felt about

    Personally, I would discourage this thinking. You'll never be wrong using "it". E.g. "The Enterprise is a large ship. It is also fast." - sounds perfectly fine. "My cottage in the woods is very important to me. She's been in my family for years." - will sound very odd to a native speaker.
    Not a teacher.

  9. #19
    JarekSteliga is offline Member
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    Default Re: gender of English nouns

    Quote Originally Posted by BobSmith View Post
    Not a teacher.



    I am getting the picture. Thank you.

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