When Nouns Grew Genitals
Languages all across the world have what’s called grammatical gender, which means simply that nouns get divvied up into different categories or “classes.” Sometimes those categories are called masculine and feminine, like in Spanish, although for some other languages the categories have nothing at all to do with natural gender or biological sex. In the first of a multipart Lexicon Valley series, Bob Garfield and I explore what it means for language to have gender and how it affects the way we think about the world.
This Slate podcast comments that they “asked a bunch of linguists and none of them could identify a reason for languages to have grammatical gender”. Given that so many languages do have grammatical gender, I came up with several reasons why this could make sense. It got pretty long though, so I made it into a separate post in defence of grammatical gender.