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Learning Article : The Logic Of Gender In Languages

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The Logic Of Gender In Languages

Many languages have a grammatical gender. Some languages have specific rules for the gender. So, you can learn the rules and deal with the exceptions. But what if there is no logic and there are more exceptions than rules?

Apr 18, 2018 12:00 AM
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Comments · 8
I'm Italian, and I'm learning German. Italian as well as Spanish has genders and easily recognizable.
In German things are harder 3 genders and a lot of rules. My two sons do exactly what you write in your article, they learn words with the article before. They don't care about it, they memorize words with article word as one word
il cane, il gatto, la mucca....
They don't know grammar, but they can still handle it 
April 18, 2018

Very helpful article, especially (like you said) before taking the first lesson. I was learning some basics of Italian and Spanish exactly this way - by repeating the nouns aloud with preceding articles. And I usually remember it (sometimes make mistakes when I'm suggested too much by the gender this noun has in my language... though in most cases it's the same gender).

I don't remember exactly how it was when I was learning German at school, but the fact is, that I forgot most of noun genders. I remember the noun, and even remember the articles declension... but it's still useless when I have to guess the gender. And in many cases the gender of a noun in Polish and German are different (especially when the question is: male or neutral? and also in other cases like the famous German neutral 'girl'). Probably the reason is that we have no articles in most Slavic languages and we usually forget about them (I don't even think how many times I forget using 'a' or 'the' in my English comments here).
'The deeper you go into the forest the more trees you see.' The problems arise when we talk about genders in plural - how to treat groups of one gender, and how about mixed groups. Sometimes it's not easy. Polish has three singular (like German) and two plural genders. But I heard there are languages where the plural form is different when there are two and when there are more than two members of the group (I don't remember exactly but my friend from Slovenia tried to explain it to me).

April 20, 2018

Thank you for your comments. 

@Marco Yes, children handle grammar intuitively. It was so interesting to watch my own children learn grammar without the rules.

@Liva Yes, different points of view always help in any situation.

@Mauricio Good. In French there are only two article. That might be an advantage over German.

@Joseph I have heard about Arabic, however, I haven't dared to tackle it in depth.

@Antonio German children learn words that way, definitely. Children just absorb all the information and their brains categorise it. When it comes to learning a foreign language, I think Germans make mistakes just like anybody else.

April 20, 2018
Thank you for your article Carsten. I'm struggling with genders in German. The method you describe makes a lot of sense. Would you say that is how Germans learn words, they put them together with its article?
April 19, 2018

@Carsten can you tell me in which Spanish dictionaries you can look up a word preceded by an article?

@Joseph Arabic is a total complication about gender, especially the numerals, my favorite piece of cake, ha, ha

@to all , why don’t dictionaries give you the gender of a noun. I hate them

April 19, 2018
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Carsten
Language Skills
Danish, English, French, German, Italian, Persian (Farsi), Portuguese, Spanish, Turkish
Learning Language
French