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Robert Hailman wrote:

>This is definitely possible, but a society that got rid of it's gender
>system wouldn't likely adopt a new one. I'm not educated in this area at
>all, are there any known examples of a gender system appearing in a
>language that had previously lost it's genders?

There's probably  way to tell that kind of thing, because most languages have
not been written long enough for the records to show.  But I don't see why it
couldn't happen.  Changes in a language are gradual, so by the time a new
system started, no one would be alive who remembered the old one.

 I'd accept your argument
>much more readily if it's been known to happen, because to me, and maybe
>it's just my lack of education in the field showing, the speakers of a
>language that got rid of a language wouldn't accept a new one. A lot of
>English speakers can't comprehent why other languages have more
>complicated gender systems, and probably would resist having one in
>English, too.

Systems like that aren't something that just appear over night.  They creep in
gradually.  The speakers wouldn't even realize its happening, I'm sure.

Would English speakers object to the idea of having a classifier system like
Chinese?  I'd bet "No."  But that is hypothesised to be one of the steps in in
the creation of a new gender system.  Once every noun must be associated
with a
particular "counter", you start reducing the number of them, then you
phonologically reduce them so that they are inflections on the noun, and POOF:
Gender.  (Not quite as easy as it sounds, of course.)

>Also, some languages lose gender distinctions, others gain more. But
>what are the odds of a language losing one system and simultainously
>gaining another? I say simultaniously because I'd imagine the electrical
>and synthetic distinctions would come in as the male/female
>disctinctions were lost.

I would suggest that the change would not be simultaneous.  Languages don't
change that fast.  There would undoubtablly be a period where the language had
no gender of any kind.

Marcus