Sunday, April 25, 2010
Ever wondered how Scandinavian (and other) languages with grammatical gender assign this to words borrowed from English, which long ago lost grammatical gender except for the odd exception (ship = she)? After all, without assigning a word to one gender it simply can't be used properly. A paper on Scribd I just came across goes over this subject. It's interesting for the language learner in how it shows that learning the gender of a word in a Scandinavian language is different from that in other languages, because in Scandinavian languages the common gender is so prevalent that the student's task isn't so much to learn the gender of a noun so much as to simply keep an eye out for neuter (et) words (and with Norwegian, for words that will also be seen in the feminine form depending on the style of the speaker). A Norwegian dictionary I have doesn't list the gender of nouns in the Norwegian-English portion, and instead just has a list in the back of neuter nouns because this only takes up about ten pages to do so.
Gender Assignment in Danish Swedish and Norwegian a Comparison of the Status of Assignment Criteria