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Carlos Thompson wrote:
>
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Nik Taylor" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Wednesday, May 24, 2000 11:53 PM
> Subject: Re: LŠadan and woman's speak
>
> > 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.
>
> If you see gender as a burden, well, they don't.  If you see gender as an
> expresive need they will eventually evolve some gender system.  For example:
> objects that can be alienabaly possessed and those that cannot.  Things with
> plurals and things without plurals.  Animates vs. inanimates (inanimates
> would seldom inflects in nominative, active or ergative cases).
>
I, personally, love gender, but as an English speaker I guess I have
some bias against it. I don't think, however, that gender is nescessary
to a language, and could easily see a language loosing it, more easily
than one gaining it.

> > Why not?  We know from records that gender can be lost.  Language has
> > existed for God knows how long, if gender could only be lost, and not
> > gained, then where there'd be no genders in any language on Earth!
> >
> > > I say simultaniously because I'd imagine the electrical
> > > and synthetic distinctions would come in as the male/female
> > > disctinctions were lost.
> >
> > I forget the earlier posts in this thread, but why should there have
> > been an earlier gender system?  Why not just postulate gender evolving
> > from a non-gendered language?
>
> Well. English has now-a-days and important classification system in its
> grammar: count and mass nouns.  Count nouns can use singular and plural
> determinants like "a" and "some", have a marked plural form (-s), and will
> agree, based on number with either "it" or "they".  Mass nouns use a subset
> of the determinants (no "a"), don't have a plural form (unless it means
> kinds of), and only one pronoun.  How long until this clasification will
> count as a gender system?  Which further changes in the grammar would evolve
> if the distinction is not lost?

Right, I could see this turning into a gender system, over a period of
time? I'm curious, though, do we know if this is a new distinction or a
remnant of English's original gender system? If it's a remnant, it could
be on it's way to dissapearing also.

--
Robert