Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

Why do so many languages use genders?

Coffee; English no gender.

Café; French masculine.

Kahwa; Arabic Feminine.


9 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The way languages find their structure is rooted in history, and the majority of Indo-European languages have grammatical gender - which, by the way, has nothing to do with sex - as a result of the way the language developped.

    In fact, until the middle ages, English nouns were divided into 3 genders - masculine, feminine and neuter but the difference has been eroded away over the centuries and now the distinction is made only between masculine and feminine living beings (he, she) and inanimate nouns (it). But all the Western European Latin-based languages - French, Spanish, Cataln, Italian, Portuguese, Galician, Occitan(Langue d'Oc/Provençal) still continue to have masculine and feminine nouns and no neuter ("it") nouns, although Latin did have a neuter gender.

    The Celtic languages, (Welsh, Scottish and Irish Gaelic, Breton, Manx, Cornish) as well as Arabic and Hebrew and also Albanian, all have masculine and feminine but no neuter, as do most Northern Indian languages, Punjabi, Hindi, Urdu, etc, whilst Gujerati (which is otherwise quite similar to Hindi and Punjabi) has masculine. feminine and neuter. But Bengali and Persian, 2 very different languages which are nonetheless still related both to the other Northern Indian languages, and to the Western European languages, has no grammatical gender at all, and does not even distinguish between "he" and "she".

    Other modern languages - the Slavic languages (Russian, Ukrainean, Polish, Czech, Serbian, Bulgarian, Croatian, and so on) have three genders - masculine/feminine/neuter and so do Greek and German. Dutch - which is closely related to German - used to have 3 genders, but now only has two "common" and "neuter", and so do the Scandinavian languages, Danish, Swedish and Norwegian - (although Norwegian hasn't quite made up its mind yet, as some dialects also have a feminine gender).

    It is wrong to say, as one answer has done, that English is the only language that does not have gender.

    Other European languages - Hungarian, Finnish, (and I believe Estonian) and Turkish have no grammatical gender and do not even have different words for "he" and "she"; it shares this characteristic with Basque, even though Basque is not related to any other of the languages mentioned.

    Of all the languages I have mentioned, however, English is the only one that restricts the use of "he" to male living beings, "she" to female living beings, and "it" to everything else. It might well be more appropriate, therefore, to ask why doesn't English behave like other languages in terms of grammatical gender?

  • Fred
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago

    Not that many languages use gender. The Indo-European languages are the primary ones, as they anthropomorphize everything, including nouns. English used to have gender, but no longer.

  • 1 decade ago

    The fact is that genders exist. Some cultures attribute masculine or feminine qualities to various things and the language reflects that..Although English does not do this, Americans like calling their cars and other machines "she".

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    mmm it's easy to understand...

    well, in english you don't have any genders.. you say shoe, tree, table, school, and you don't know if it's femenine or masculine. you know what is that but don't know the gender. That also explains why don't you have gender and number in your THE article.. i think that there's not sense to use articles in english because they don't inform us about anything!

    I'm spanish and in my language we use diferent articles and pronouns depending if the word or the name is masculine or femenine, plural or singular.


    MASCULINE singular: el , un, = the , a /an

    MASCULINE plural: los, unos= the , a/ an

    FEMENINE singular: la, una= the , a /an

    FEMENINE plural: ,las, unas= the , a /an

    la casa-femenine Sn = the house(no gender)

    las casas- femenine Pl= The houses ('')

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 1 decade ago

    Alot of languages including English do not incorporate genders:

    English, Vietnamese to name a few

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    This is the history of the language. It was set historically.

  • Erika
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    In swedish, there are genders, yet you are able to opt to no longer say them. Like in case you desire to declare instructor, you purely would desire to declare "lärare". this is not important which gender the techer has have been given. It replaced into msotly lower back contained in the days they suggested "lärarinna" to a girl instructor. So this is not important in case you assert "skådespelare"(actor) or "skådespelerska"(actress) to an actress. purely the rather choosy ones will ultimate suited you.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    English is the only one that doesn't

  • 1 decade ago

    i don’t get you

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.