Languages: gender, definite article

I said: Some languages (Latin, German) have three genders.  How many languages have none?  How come? Ed Jajko replies: Finnish has no genders.  Turkish likewise has no genders.  Arabic and Hebrew, like French, have masculine and feminine.  Indo-European Persian, on the other hand, unlike French, Latin, German, Greek, and the Slavic languages, has no genders.  Iranians speaking English often use "he" instead of "she" and vice-versa.  On top of this, Turkish and Persian have no definite article, while Arabic does (as does Hebrew).  Yet the great writers of the Middle Ages became masters of poetry and prose in multiple languages.  As for why some languages have gender while others do not, my learned response is that's just the way it is, that there is no particular rhyme or reason to it. 

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Ronald Hilton 2004


last updated: October 8, 2004