Two Examples of Just How Tricky Gender Can Be
Gender, and in particular the gender implications of anthropos, have come up over and again recently (for example, my posts here and here, some great information from Suzanne here, and a response by Peter here). I hope to have time in a few days to prepare a fuller post with a little more background and information.
In the meantime, here are two examples — one from Russian and one from Spanish — that show how tricky gender and language can be.
|moi||doktor||ne||znala||shto||deleat||my (masc.)||doctor (???)||NEG||knew (fem.)||what||to do|
|“My doctor didn’t know what to do.”|
|the (masc.)||sugar (???)||white (fem.)||…|
|“The white sugar….”|
In (1), we see that the normally masculine word “doctor” gets a masculine adjective (moi) but a feminine verb (znala) because she is a woman. (This contrasts with how gender usually words, as in the example I gave here about the French personne, which gets feminine agreement even when it refers to a man.)
In (2), we see the noun azucar (properly with an accent that I can’t figure out how to type) with the masculine determiner el but the feminine adjective blanca. (La azucar blanca is also possible, and depending on dialect, so is el azucar blanco.)
These highlight the complex nature of gender in language.