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.

Tom Wier <[log in to unmask]>
AIM: Deuterotom ICQ: 4315704
"Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero."