Re: Sensory and sensibility

From: Joachim Maier (
Date: Wed Jan 23 2002 - 22:46:26 GMT

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    Date: Wed, 23 Jan 2002 17:46:26 -0500
    From: Joachim Maier <>
    Subject: Re: Sensory and sensibility
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    I'm a German, living now for 17 years in the US
    TV is Fernseh Apparat. and it is der Apparat (masculine)
    now I do not know why Apparat (apparatus) is masculine
    Die Stereo (feminin) comes from Die Stereo Anlage. Again for Anlage (Setup)
    I have no idea why it is feminin.
    Radio has both depending on the area you live in
    In Baden Wuertemberg it's der (masculine) radio, in high german it's das
    Radio (neutral). Der Radio I think is again the short form of der Radio
    German is weird in that way. A small girl is Das Maedchen, and that is
    neutral. While the Church, die Kirche is female.
    I guess I did not really answer the question, but that's as good as I can
    do :)

    At 08:14 AM 1/23/2002 -0800, you wrote:

    >> > 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 way.
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    >This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    >Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
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    This was distributed via the memetics list associated with the
    Journal of Memetics - Evolutionary Models of Information Transmission
    For information about the journal and the list (e.g. unsubscribing)

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