Let’s Talk About Sex
(and turnips)
All the World’s a Turnip
Masculine Turnips
El nabo Spanish
Feminine Turnips
La rapa Italian
Rapa - Latin
Le navet French
O nabo Portugese
ТУРНЕПС Russian
Die Rübe German
A-Sexual Turnips
Turnip English
Nauris Finnish
Arbi Basque
Petrezselyemgyökér Hungarian
Kabura Japanese
Singkamas –
Tagalog
Like English, these languages have no gender
systems, a trait they share with a surprising
number of languages.
A-Sexual Languages
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Afrikaans
Armenian
Azeri
Basque
Bengali
Bislama
Bugis
Burmese
Cebuano
Central Yup’ik
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Chinese
Chol
English
Estonian
Finnish
Georgian
Guaraní
Hawaiian
Hungarian
Ilocano
Indonesian
More A-Sexual Languages
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Interlingua
Kannada
Khmer
Lao
Lojban
Malagasy
Malay
Malayalam
Makasar
Mande languages
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Papiamentu
Persian
Nahuatl
Pirahã
Quechua
Quenya
Sindarin
Thai
Vietnamese
Yoruba
What is Grammatical Gender?
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Grammatical gender is a form of noun classification
“Gender” from Latin Genus meaning “Kind/type”
Most languages don’t associate grammatical
gender with biological gender
What is a Noun Class?
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A noun class is a grammatical distinction between
nouns in a language.
Not all linguists make a distinction between
Grammatical Gender and Noun Class.
This can be based on:
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Animate/Inanimate
Rational/Non-rational
Human/Non-human
Male/Other
Masculine/Feminine/Neuter
Strong/Weak
Augmentative/Diminutive
Why Gender/Noun Class?
Theories
● Initially biological- males and females.
● Expansion to sexless objects by association
through myth or religion.
● A way of identifying and differentiating nounsdifferent “its”.
You think 4 noun classes is confusing?
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Swahili has 8 noun classes
Fula has 26
Navaho has 10, including:
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Human Beings
Liquids
Round Things
Long Stiff Things
Long Floppy Things
And also…
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The aboriginal Australian language Dyirbal has
four noun classes:
Class 1
Class 2
Class 3
Class 4
Men
Women
Edible Plants
Body Parts
Kangaroos
Dogs
Meat
Possums
Platypus
Sound
Most Fish
Dangerous
Animals
Language
Most Snakes
Fire, water
Wind
Hunting
Weapons
War Weapons
Non-edible, nonharmful plants
English – The Linguistic Eunuch
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It’s known that English is one of those odd
languages that has no gender system.
Old English, however, did. Therefore, at
some point, the genders fell out of use, or
were eroded out of the language.
Old English - Masculine
Singular
Plural
Nominative
(se) stán
(þá) stánas
Accusative
(þone) stán
(þá) stánas
Genitive
(þæs) stánes
(þára) stána
Dative
(þæm) stáne
(þæm) stánum
stán
Neuter
scip
Singular
Plural
Nominative
(þæt) scip
(þá) scipu
Accusative
(þæt) scip
(þá) scipu
Genitive
(þæs) scipes
(þára) scipa
Dative
(þæm) scipe
(þæm) scipum
Feminine
giefu
Singular
Plural
Nominative
(séo) giefu
(þá) giefa
Accusative
(þá) giefe
(þá) giefa
Genitive
(þære) giefe
(þára) giefa
Dative
(þære) giefe
(þæm) giefum
Traces of Gender
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There are, in fact, some traces of gender left
over in the English language.
For example, we still utilise “he”, “she”, “it” to
distinguish between male and female
humans, animals and inanimate objects.
Gender Confusion in the Netherlands
As we all know, the English language has
lost its gender system. We can see this
happening in the Dutch language.
Gender Systems
Dutch used to maintain a gender system
similar to German i.e. masculine, feminine
and neuter.
However, the distinction between masculine
and feminine is becoming more and more
vague.
Dutch Genders
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Dutch has two articles, “de” and “het”.
“De” is used for both masculine and
feminine, while “het” is used for neuter.
Dutch appears to have experienced an
erosion of gender similar to the one
experienced by English.
As a result, “de witte zout” (the white salt), is
identifiable as neither masculine or feminine.
Swedutch?
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This erosion that Dutch is experiencing is
causing it to reach a stage that is similar to
Swedish which has neuter and common
gender.
Perhaps these are the final days of genders
in Dutch.
Just to confuse you: a different type of
confusion, particularly regarding milk
and eggs
Lac
Masculine
Feminine
Le lait
La leche
Il latte
La llet
O leite
Eggs…and the mysterious ‘IT’
Italian eggs
French
Spanish
Italian
L’uovo
Celui-ci
Éste
Gli
Le uova
Celle-ci
Ésta
Le
Ceci
Esto
Ci
Super Surveys
Sun
Tree
French
Masc
Masc
German
Fem
Masc
YOU
Masc
Neuter
Fish
Bird
Turnip
Masc
Masc
Masc
Fem
Masc
Fem
Masc
Masc/Neuter
Masc
Carrot
Fem
Fem
Masc
Gravy
Water
Sky
Fem
Fem
Masc
Fem
Neuter
Masc
Fem
Fem
Neuter
And finally, for your entertainment…
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We were going to give you a quiz. We’ve decided against that,
so instead, here are some of the titles we came up with:
A Question of Sprout
The Weakest Leek
I’m a Celery, Get Me Out of Here
Who Wants to Be a Potato-aire (we think this one’s stupid as
well)
24 Carrot Quiz
Uni-broccoli Challenge
Turnip, or not turnip? That is the question.
Mark Twain – Without whom this
presentation would not exist.
“In German, a
young lady has no
sex, while a turnip
has.” – The Awful
German Language
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Let’s Talk About Sex