Hello, Remi. Thanks for writing.

This is at least my second, probably my third, reading of your post; 
I think I missed some things the first (two) time(s) that deserve 
talking about.

--- In [log in to unmask], Remi Villatel <maxilys@T...> wrote:
> tomhchappell wrote:
> 	[---CUT---] A lot of interesting things...
> > I expect (sort-of plan) to have a gender distinction 
> > between "Rational" and "Non-Rational" whose semantic core will 
> 	[---CUT---]
> > I expect (sort-of plan) to have a gender distinction 
> > between "Sentient" and "Non-Sentient".  The "Sentient" ones can 
> 	[---CUT---]
> > I expect to have a three-degree distinction of Animacy.  The 
> > Animate gender will have, as its semantic core, those entities 
> 	[---CUT---] Remember: Animate, Bound Animate, Inanimate
> You'll have to choose one pattern. The three overlap.

In a private post I mentioned previouse threads explaining why I 
don't think these fit into a hierarchy.  In a sense, I think they 
will overlap in my proposed(?) conculture, which is why they interact 
multiplicatively instead of additively when I don't choose between 

I did think of making "NonSentient - Sentient - Rational" another 
three-degree scale along with 
"Inanimate - BoundAnimate - FreeAnimate", but I decided to go instead 
for the four-way split "NonSentient vs Sentient" 
and "NonRational vs Rational" instead, just admitting that it was 
going to be rather rare in the primitive language for nouns to 
have "Rational but NonSentient" as a native gender.


** See below when referred to /later/

> > People in real-life natlangs do indeed address non-Rational 
> > all the time.

** See above when when referred to /later/

> > In order to be an Addressee, and entity must either be Rational, 
> > it must be Sentient and at least Bound-Animate.
> Absolutely not. A lot of people talk to their computer, insult 
pieces of 
> furniture which they bumped into, make lectures to their pets, and 
> on. If you have never done any of the above, you're a rare 
animal.  ;-)

OK, /later/ is now; look back at the stuff between the "**" lines.
The things you just mentioned were among what I meant then.
Talking to babies, too; babies are Non-Rational Humans.

"Talking to furniture" doesn't really count here; I don't know 
exactly what you call that, but it's a kind of minor-sentence 
figure-of-speech in which the speaker is being illogical, 
and not using the language for a purpose in which 
the notion of "addressee" makes any sense.

"Talking to their computer", in the sense you meant it, is 
like "talking to furnituer"; but my conculture will have computers, 
some of which will qualify as Rational, some of which will qualify as 
Animate (both degrees), some of which will qualify as Sentient.

"Talking to Pets", or other trained animals, for that matter, is 
exactly the kind of problem for which I think a gendered second 
person might be needed.

A pet or a baby is a Sentient Animate Non-Rational entity.
(Well, if the baby or pet isn't mature enough to have 
"opened its eyes" yet, it might not be considered Sentient, and I 
suppose, for instance, a marsupial which has not matured enought to 
be able to let go of the nipple might be considered at best 
BoundAnimate, maybe not even that.  A human baby which can see and 
hear but can't crawl yet might be Sentient Bound-Animate.)
A dumb-enough but smart-enough computer might be, too.
If the pet animal, or baby in some non-human species, or the 
computer, happened to be capable of non-translational automotion 
(locomotion?) but not of translational (auto/loco)motion, it would be 

> > Why have a 2nd-person gender?
> That's a good question. And the answer is mostly (con)cultural. In 
> archaic societies where men and women have very strict roles, a 
> male/female distinction is very important on the 2nd person, to 
> a person to hold his/her rank, and eventually to insult somebody 
> using the wrong gender toward him/her.
> In another society which supports a form of slavery, the bound 
> gender could be the gender of the slaves and of the animals. In a 
> technological society, the bound animate gender could aswell be the 
> used to talk to computers and other artificial life-forms.

Ancient Romans had "walking tools" and "talking tools".
"Walking tools" were slaves; 
"talking tools" were domesticated animals, livestock.

Had they been speaking my conlang rather than Latin they would have
put slaves in the Rational Free-Animate (Sentient) Living gender 
and put livestock in the Non-Rational Free-Animate (Sentient) Living 
gender.  (Except eunuchs, geldings, steers, and spays might have been 
Non-Living, though they would have still been Free-Animate and 
Sentient, and, in the eunuchs' case, Rational.)

Bound-Animate vs Free-Animate degrees of animacy is not going to 
distinguish between slave and free in my conlang.  Adult living 
rationals are not going to own each other nor be owned by anything in 
my conculture.  I expect problems to arise about the ownership of non-
adults whose rationality is newly-minted, and about the possible 
ownership of non-living rationals such as artificially intelligent 
machines, but I see no overwhelming reason why that would have to be 
related to the bound-animacy vs free-animacy distinction, which 
really has to do with whether a being can control its own motion from 
place to place, or only its own motion-in-place.

> Another example is Shaquelingua which has Rational and Irrational 
> genders. The Rational applies only to persons and persons-like 
> to have a personality) and the Irrational applies to everything 

The "semantic core" of your conlangs Rational gender differs from 
the "semantic core" of each of the three 
genders "Rational", "Animate", and "Sentient" of my conlang.
"Rational" as first used by the first publishing professional 
linguist to insert it into the Animacy Hierarchy was to distinguish 
humans who could talk (Rational Humans) from humans who could not 
talk (Non-Rational Humans, still higher in the Hierarchy than Non-
Human Animates).  My use of the term is inspired by that use; but the 
concept, for which I appropriated the term, is inspired by the 
Antique Roman notion of "talking tool".

BTW Many natlangs have a gender distinction between "Usable as a 
tool" and "Not useful as a tool".  I have chosen for now to leave 
that out this time.  Similarly, many natlangs have a gender 
distinction between "helpful for sustaining life" vs "not any use for 
sustaining life" (which might get translated, sort of, as "edible" 
vs "non-edible" -- except what about oxygen vs. hydrogen-sulfide, or, 
water vs. petroleum? -- or it might get translated as "vegetable" 
vs. "somehow less than vegetable", which /could/ have the interesting 
result that sodium-chloride salt would be a "vegetable", and so would 
roast beef.)  I also have, for now, chosen not to use that, this 

> However, the genders only show on the 3rd personal pronouns because 
> didn't think any kind of gender was necessary on the other 
pronouns. A 
> person always knows what gender he/she is (Rational) and what the 
> of an addressee is (Rational, most of the time). Besides, on 
> denying the status of person to somebody is a very serious matter. 
> can only do it on purpose and indirectly through the 3rd personal 

As Siewierska says (I think I quoted some of this), it is highly 
unusual to have a gender on any person but the 3rd, and highly 
unusual to have a gender on any number but the singular.  
!Ora is very unusual this way.
As a general "statistical universal", any pronoun which has a 1st or 
2nd person form as well as a 3rd person form, if it has gender 
distinctions on the 1st or 2nd person form, it will /usually/ also 
have them on the 3rd person form.  Also, any pronoun which has a 2nd 
or 3rd person form as well as a 1st person form, if it has gender 
distinctions on the 1st person form, /usually/ also have them on the 
2nd and 3rd person forms.  
(I think the above is a strengthened form of Greenberg's Universal 
number 44 or 45.)
Also, any pronoun which has forms for more than one grammatical 
number, if it has a gender distinction for a higher number, it 
will /usually/ also have a gender distinction for the lower number.  
(I think the above is a strengthened form of Greenberg's Universal 
number 45 or 44.)
In this respect the !Ora Common gender in the 1st and 2nd persons is 

> > The usual excuse for doing without gender in the 1st and 2nd 
> > is "the participants in the discourse already know what gender 
> > are."
> Just what I said.
> > True enough if both are "Rational".
> > And of course only a "Rational" entity can be the Speaker.
> > But, if a non-Rational hears an utterance, how does it know 
> > or not it was the one addressed?
> A non-Rational isn't supposed to hear nor think about whether it is 
> addressee or not. Otherwise, it's very Rational-like.

A trained dog or trained horse, or a speech-recognizing programmed 
computer, may be able to recognize commands -- not /new/ utterances, 
but still, utterances in a language.  If I have my Labrador 
Retriever, my Newfoundland, my horse (ha! I can't afford a horse!), 
and my daughter all out at the same time, and I say to one of 
them "Come by!", how are they to sort out which one I mean?  (Of 
course, a bystander could tell this way; if one of the animals comes 
up, I was addressing that animal; if nothing happens except that I 
start looking frustrated, I was addressing my daughter.)

> > A good clue would be, if the 2nd-person words in the utterance 
> > marked with a non-Rational gender.
> What's the point? Non-rational things don't care, don't react.

See the above.

> Let's imagine an ambiguous situation. You're in front of your 
> somebody else is in same room, a window is opened because it's 
> You say to your computer that is slow to react: "Would you please 
> the window?"
> Will the person next to you close the (real) window?
> It's very unlikely. There are no utterance without a context.

Imagine this;  I have a voice-input-capable computer.  In it I have 
a "Window" open.  I want the window from the room to the outside to 
be closed.  I say to my room-mate, "Would you-RATIONAL-FREEANIMATE 
please close the window?"  My room-mate knows it's her I'm speaking 
to because of all the pragmatic contextual devices you mention 
below.  My computer knows I am not speaking to it because of the form 
of 2nd person pronouon I used.

Now, instead, I want the software "Window" to be closed.  I say to my 
computer "Please you-INANIMATE close the window."  (At the moment I 
am leaving aside that my computer is probably Non-Rational since it 
may not be able to speak new sentences and may not be able to 
interpret new sentences.)  My room-mate knows I am not addressing her 
because I am not looking at her, etc.  My computer assumes I must be 
addressing it because I used the correct form of 2nd person pronoun, 
because I was just using it, and because it does have a "window" open 
that it can close; (if there is another computer in the room that 
satisfies all the same requirements and can also hear my command, 
that other computer may mistakenly think I am addressing it, but that 
is a further disambiguation problem.)  The computer assumes that 
by "the window" I must mean the most recently referred-to-by-me-when-
speaking-to-it window that it can, in fact, close.

> If you 
> actually want to talk to the person, you will look at him and draw 
> attention if he doesn't look like to be aware that you are talking 
> him. On the other hand, the person who hear you can see that you 
> staring at your screen and he will also probably notice that the 
> sarcastic voice you used wasn't meant for him. Besides, the person 
> knows that it's summer, a time when windows remain open.
> There can't be any ambiguity as to who or what you are talking.

> You don't send letters to non-Rational things to let them move 

People in my conculture speaking my conlang might, or might 
not, "send letters" to non-Rationals.  Such letters would have to 
contain only a choice of formulaic "utterances" from a (possibly 
large) pre-set list.  "Sending a letter" to a non-Rational would 
depend on the non-Rational being able to "read" it.

They wouldn't send letters to InAnimate things asking them to move 
around, but because of their InAnimacy, not because of their 
NonRationality.  It's not polite to ask something that can't move to 

> So there is nobody (Rational) that can find such a letter and think 
> it may be for him instead.  ;-)
> > Well, what does anyone think?
> You have my point of view: very unlikely.

I appreciate your taking the time to write.
I appreciate, as well, your taking the time to read.

I think many of your caveats or quibbles, or whatever word should be 
used, have to do with your conlang understanding the Rational gender 
differently from my conlang understanding either the Rational, or the 
Sentient, or the Animate (either Bound or Free degree) genders).

If I was wrong about that, please re-phrase or otherwise clarify and 
write again.

Even if I was right, you still might have reservations I would like 
to hear about; in which case, write again.

> But don't let me prevent you 
> from using such a system. That could be an odd feature meant to 
> disappear from a proto-language, or not. Look at the complex 
> pronouns.

Thank you.

> "You, inanimate things, do you have a soul?"  ;-)

Now, that's a /dang/ good question.

If a "soul" is a "personality", then my dogs and cats have had them, 
and my babies have had them certainly before they could talk, and 
really before they could crawl all that well.  So these Sentient Non-
Rational Bound-Animate Living and Sentient Non-Rational Free-Animate 
Living things might have had "souls", since in anyone's opinion they 
had observable personalities.  Hey, I think my horses and rabbits had 
personalities too.

Do my house and car and computer, which (questionably) 
have "personalities", have "souls"?

If a "soul" is a "will", then my car and computer and house don't 
have one.  But my pets and babies have -- /boy/, do they ever!  
If my car were self-steered, self-propelled, self-controlled by an 
Artificial Intelligence, would it have a "soul"?

If a "soul" is the ability to sense, perceive, be conscious, then, do 
my trees and flowering garden shrubs have one? Arguably, so, and, 
arguably, not so.

If a "soul" is "the spark of life", then, gee, the pond-scum has one, 
the virus infecting my nose has one, the "vanishing twin" embryo that 
didn't develope beside me in my mother's womb had one ....


Thanks for reading, and for writing, Remi;

and, thanks to everyone else, as well.

Tom H.C. in MI