Re: Sensory and sensibility

From: Grant Callaghan (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2002 - 16:14:37 GMT

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    From: "Grant Callaghan" <>
    Subject: Re: Sensory and sensibility
    Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2002 08:14:37 -0800
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    > > That's btw an interesting thought, one of these mostly unconscious
    > > memes i'd say. Especially in my mother language where every
    > > noun is feminine/masculine or sexless
    > >
    > > tv is masculine
    > > radio is sexless
    > > stereo set is femine
    > > ....
    > >
    > > i wonder how this came into existence.
    >I take it you mean German? Odd distinction indeed. Grant, since you are
    >a linguist, do you have any idea how this came to be?
    I'm not a German speaker as either a first or second language but I's say
    the best place to look is at the sex of the root words from which the modern
    terms were taken.

    Is "radio" similar to the British "wireless?" Or did they borrow the
    American term whole? Did "stereo" come from something like "High fidelity?"
      If so, what is the sex of "fidelity?" By the way, how do you determine
    the sex of a noun in German? Do they tack on "o" and "a" endings like the
    Spanish? Or do you have to learn the proper article to use with a word?
    Since new words are born out of old words or borrowed words, the most common
    practice is to keep the sex of the old word and if it's a borrowed word, and
    the language uses endings to determine sex, the way the word ends would be
    one factor while the category it falls into might be another. Nouns
    referring to people, for example, should almost always take the sex of the
    person referred to. I suspect that "king" is masculine and "queen" is
    feminine. Objects are more likely to be governed by tradition. Anyway,
    those are the things I would look at to find an answer. Unfortunately, my
    specialty was Oriental languages and they didn't divide their world up that


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