Steve C asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 1 decade ago

In French, why do countries have different genders?

Why are Canada, the US and Mexico masculine, while China, India and Australia are feminine? Who decided and wtf were they thinking?!

Update:

Supplementary question: How do French (and Spanish, plus others) determine gender for new countries. Who decided that East Timor should be feminine?

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  • 1 decade ago
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    This isn't only true in French, it's true in other languages with definitive genders, which English lacks. It's a point of linguistic evolution, and comes about with the incorporation of country names into the French language and not the arbitrary selection of gender, as would be necessary if all countries were of, say, masculine gender. If you look at the final syllable of the country's name, you can generally figure out the gender of the country.

    East Timor is feminine because the word Republica is feminine in Spanish, whereas the word Timor, in French, is masculine, hence the masculinity of the name.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    just the way it is, and it doesn't only apply to french .. spanish is the same way.

    East Timor in french is known as Le Timor oriental (masculine)

    in spanish it's feminine: La Republica Democratica de Timor Oriental

    Source(s): I speak both french and spanish fluently
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