Gender

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    Gender

    The opposition of human (person) and non-human (non-person) nouns is related to the further lexical divi­sion of human (person) nouns into those denoting male persons and those which name female persons. Both op­positions together constitute the lexical category of Gender which is realized by means of the three categorial forms: the neuter (i.e. non-human or non-person) gender, the masculine (i.e. masculine person) gender, the feminine (i.e. feminine person) gender.

    Each opposition has its strong and weak members. The strong member of the first opposition is the class of human nouns with its semantic mark «person»: son, daughter, man, woman, bride, bridegroom, lord, lady, master, mistress, doctor, teacher, pupil, etc. The weak member is the class of non-human nouns which includes both animate nouns, i.e. collective nouns, names of animals and inanimate nouns, i.e. names of things, facts, abstract notions: crowd, government, organization, bear, wolf, hen, cock, cow, bull, book, love, fear, reading, and so on.

    The strong member of the second opposition is traditionally considered to be the feminine gender while its weak member is the masculine gender. This may be accounted for by the fact that in English there exist a few pairs of person nouns like actor — actress, author — authoress, host hostess, master mistress, mayor — mayoress, peer — peeress, steward — stewardess, waiter — waitress in which the gender opposition is indicated grammatically: the feminine counterpart is marked by the suffix -ess, thus being its strong member. This type of

    gender which is assigned to nouns as a constant may be called intrinsic. It may also be applied to such pairs as man woman, lady — lord, bride — bridegroom, girl — boy, mother — father, brother — sister, son — daughter

    and so on.

    Yet on the whole, the category of Gender is semantic or lexical and expressed by the obligatory correlation of nouns with the personal pronouns of the third person: she — the feminine gender, he — the masculine gender, it — the neuter gender. Using another terminology this type of gender may be called referential for human beings are normally referred to as she or he, while animals and things as it. The only exceptions are the person nouns child and baby which are sometimes referred to as it.

    The referential gender is typical of a great number of English person nouns which may be applied to both male and female persons: friend, neighbour, stranger, cousin, parent, teacher, student, doctor, writer, servant, taxpayer, clerk, etc. So their gender is specified either contextually or by means of compounds such as boy-friend, girlfriend, lady friend, lady doctor, lady writer, man-servant, maid­servant, girl-student, woman-clerk.

    Alongside of the gender distinctions described above there are some specific cases in English which need a par­ticular consideration. First, sometimes in spoken language or literature there may be observed a tendency to asso­ciate the names of animals with the feminine or masculine gender. Nouns denoting them are characterized by the intrinsic feminine or masculine gender. On the one hand, there are some pairs of nouns like cow bull, dog — bitch, mare stallion, hen — cock. On the other hand,

    the gender may be defined either with the help of the grammatical suffix -ess or by means of compounds: lion — lioness, tiger tigress, he-wolf, she-wolf, he-bear, she-bear, male-elephant, female-elephant, cock-sparrow, hen-sparrow, tom-cat, jenny-ass.

    In fiction any animal may act as a person. In this respect smaller and weaker animals like hare, cat, parrot are normally associated with the feminine gender while bigger and stronger ones such as elephant, horse with the masculine gender. Conversely, birds and sometimes insects irrespective their small size are usually viewed as male: canary, nightingale, swallow, fly.

    Second, sometimes in spoken language and fiction inanimate things and abstract notions are personified, i.e. viewed as human beings, and thus nouns denoting them are referred to as either feminine or masculine. Thus, the names of vessels and vehicles or mechanisms are traditio­nally alluded to as belonging to the feminine gender: ship, boat, steamer, car, coach, carriage, engine, etc. For example: The Titanic is a British passenger ship, thought of as impossible to sink, which on her first trip in 1912 hit an iceberg and sank, causing over 1500 deaths.

    Moon and earth are referred to as feminine, while sun as masculine: It is pleasant to watch the sun in his chariot of gold, and the moon in her chariot of pearl. (O. Wilde)

    The names of countries are conventionally viewed as feminine. For example: France is famous for her grapes, she can also grow peaches, pears and plums.

    When abstract notions are personified the masculine gender is often ascribed to nouns with the general idea of strength (anger, death, fear war, hail) whereas the femi-

    nine gender is normally related to the nouns expressing the idea of gentleness, charm (peace, kindness, beauty, spring, autumn, dawn).

    To conclude: gender in English is a specific lexical (though with some elements of grammatical expression) category of nouns which can be expressed either intrin­sically or referentially.

    #45646
    Main Aditor
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    Classes of nouns and grammatical categories of nouns
    Lexical stratification of nouns is inseparably connec¬ted with their grammatical or morphological characteris¬tics. This means that certain lexical classes of nouns ap¬pear to express particular grammatical properties such as number (число), case (падеж) and even impose restric¬tions on their functioning. Thus number may only be expressed by countable nouns: a boy — boys, a bird — birds, a book — books. Case indicating relations of a noun to other words in a sentence is basically realized by the opposition of animate nouns which may be proper, common, inanimate or inanimate nouns: John s coat, my sisters house, the dog’s tail, the idea of the book, the question under discussion.
    Case and number are considered to be the gramma¬tical categories of nouns since they are the most general properties of words of this class which have acquired grammatical expression.

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