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CONLANG  March 1999, Week 3

CONLANG March 1999, Week 3

Subject:

Re: Relative Genders

From:

JOEL MATTHEW PEARSON <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Constructed Languages List <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 17 Mar 1999 10:47:06 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

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text/plain (38 lines)

On Mon, 15 Mar 1999, Nik Taylor wrote:

> All this talk about nouns varying by possessor has got me thinking - are
> there any conlangs (or natlangs) with "relative gender", by which I mean
> that their meaning depends on your gender.  For instance, suppose that
> -e was "same" and -i was "different", while amik- was "friend", thus
> "amike" would mean "male friend" for a male, and "female friend" for a
> female, while "amiki" would mean the opposite.

Many Austronesian languages have words for "brother" and "sister" which
actually mean things like "same-sex sibling" and "opposite-sex sibling".
Malagasy has a sibling-naming system which combines the gender of the
person being named with the gender of the person from whose point of
view the naming is done.  The component morphemes are:

        raha-           "same-sex sibling"
        ana(k)-         "opposite-sex sibling"

        lahy            "male"
        vavy            "female"

Combining these morphemes gives you four terms:

        rahalahy        "brother of a man"
                           lit. "male same-sex sibling"
        rahavavy        "sister of a woman"
                           lit. "female same-sex sibling"

        anadahy         "brother of a woman"
                           lit. "male opposite-sex sibling"
        anabavy         "sister of a man"
                           lit. "female opposite-sex sibling"

I guess this system could be thought of as combining absolute
gender and relative gender...

Matt.

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