Why don’t nouns have gender in English they way they do in Spanish, French, or German? Before the Middle English period, nouns in English were either masculine, feminine, or neuter. Over time, however, we’ve moved away from the semantically arbitrary practice of assigning genders to objects that have none. In other words, the linguistic notion of grammatical gender is completely different from biological and social notion of natural gender. Read a chapter about it from Gender Shifts in the History of English by Anne Curzan. This is part of a complete episode.
- Deviled Eggs (episode #1554) 09/14/2020: Some TV commercials launch catchphrases that stick around long after the original ads. The exclamation Good stuff, Maynard! is still a compliment almost 40 years... [more]
- Play It by Ear (episode #1553) 08/31/2020: How does social context shape our perception of language? When hiking the Appalachian Trail, a young woman from Wyoming found that fellow hikers assumed she... [more]
- Moon Palace (episode #1552) 08/17/2020: What happens in a classroom of refugee and immigrant youngsters learning English? Their fresh approach to language can result in remarkable poetry — some of... [more]
- Online Event August 27, 2020: Lemonade, Anyone? 08/04/2020: ... [more]
- Cherry Bombs (episode #1551) 07/27/2020: An ornithologist says there's a growing movement to change the name of a pink-footed bird currently called the flesh-footed shearwater. The movement reflects a growing... [more]