10. What is Grammatical Gender?
The Five-Minute Linguist - Bite-sized Essays on Language and Languages Third Edition - Caroline Myrick
Caroline Myrick [+]
North Carolina State University
Caroline Myrick holds a PhD from the Department of Sociology at North Carolina State University, with specializations in sociolinguistics and social inequality. Her research addresses language variation and change in the Caribbean as well as language and gender ideologies.
Languages have ‘natural gender’ if animate males are assigned the masculine, animate females the feminine, and inanimate objects are assigned the neuter gender. Languages have ‘formal gender’ if they assign a gender to nouns arbitrarily. But is formal gender completely arbitrary? Some argue that the gendering of nouns has cognitive implications for speakers.