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Языкознание. База IV 


The Category of Gender in English.

Курсовая работа; 22 стр.



     3.1. GENERAL NOTIONS 11
          3.2.1. Higher animals 13
          3.2.2. Lower animals and inanimate nouns 13
          3.2.3. Names of countries 14

Gender is less important category in English than in many other languages. It is closely tied to the sex of the referent and is chiefly reflected in co-occurrence patterns with respect to singular personal pronouns (and corresponding possessive and reflexive forms).

The vernacular grammars took their notions of gender directly from classical models. Some grammarians even tried to apply gender agreement rules to Modern English. For example, Daniel Duncan's New English Grammar ([1731] 1967) includes a rule requiring the English adjective to agree in gender with its noun, although Duncan recognizes that, unlike Latin, English adjectives are not marked for gender and cannot show such agreement; he also complains that the apparently random assignment of gender to Latin nouns "gives no, little Trouble to the Learner to get Master of."

In some eighteenth-century grammars, however, more scientific notions of gender were beginning to appear, and a clear sense of the superiority of modern knowledge to ancient speculation makes itself felt. English grammarians favor the English system of natural gender for animate nouns and metaphorical gender for some inanimate or abstract nouns because it is more rational and flexible than the arbitrary grammatical gender of such languages as Latin or French. But with the celebration of natural gender comes a renewed association of linguistic gender with physiology. Benjamin Martin writes in his institutions of Language (1748) that the inconsistencies of Greek and Latin grammatical gender arose because the ancients did not know that plants had sex or that animals could be sexless, and therefore erred in their attempts to assign natural gender to words. As James Beattie puts it in his Theory of Language ([1788] 1968), "the sexual arrangement of vegetables is a modern discovery, hinted at by Aristotle, but unknown to the authors of language".

Despite a general tendency to restrict gender as far as possible to male and female animates, and the suggestion by a number of grammarians that neuter was not a gender at all, a few writers sought to proliferate gender categories.

Fortunately, most English grammar texts in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries did not worry their readers too much when it came to gender. Few devoted more than one or two paragraphs, together with some illustrative lists, to the explanation of English nominal gender, and most books did not discuss pronoun gender to any great extent. The work of Lindley Murray serves as a good example. In his English Grammar ([1795] 1968), Murray, who was not concerned with illogicalities in languages with grammatical gender, says simply that "gender is the distinction of sex" and describes four principal methods of distinguishing sex in the English noun system:

- 1st. By different words; as, man, woman; boy, girl; son, daughter; gander, goose; cock, hen.

- 2d. By a difference of termination; as, duke, duchess; count, countess; poet, poetess; hero, heroine; actor, actress; executor, executrix.

- 3d. By adding an adjective or pronoun to the substantive; as, a male child, a female child; a he-goat, a she-goat; a he-ass, a she-ass.

- 4th. By prefixing another substantive to the word; as, a cock-sparrow, a hen-sparrow; a man-servant, a maid-servant.

It’s important to note, there is nothing in the grammatical form of а noun, which reveals its gender, there are lexical means of making gender explicit and reference with а third person singular pronoun may make it apparent. However, gender is not а simple reflection of reality; rather it is to some extent а matter of convention and speaker choice and special strategies may be used to avoid gender-specific reference to all.


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The Category of Gender in English