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Barry Garcia wrote:

> [log in to unmask] writes:
> >Why *should* English have any morphological marking of gender on nouns?
> >Why *should* any language mark *anything* morphologically?  (Chinese
> >comes pretty close to not doing the latter)
> >
> >(Not trying to be aggressive here -- just trying to uproot that person's
> >basic assumptions about the way language works)
>
> Well, she herself said she didn't know much about languages, so i guess it
> didn't occur to her that any given language doesn't need gender to
> function.  I must say, I used to wonder why the romance languages needed
> gender, until I found out their histories.

Well, it's not really a question of *needing*.  It's more a question of
*having*, in the sociolinguistic context of the culture that gives birth
to a given language.  One could make the argument that Romance
languages *needed* morphological case marking, but obviously,
Romance speakers didn't think so, because they got rid of almost all
of it.

I can kinda see, though, why Romance languages usually cut the genders
down to two, neuter being so nearly indistinct from masculine and all, if that's
what you mean by needing.

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Tom Wier <[log in to unmask]>
AIM: Deuterotom ICQ: 4315704
<http://www.angelfire.com/tx/eclectorium/>
"Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero."
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