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.
- Abso-Bloomin-Lutely (episode #1526) 06/03/2019: The autocomplete function on your phone comes in handy, of course. But is it changing the way we write and how linguists study language? Also,... [more]
- Niblings and Nieflings (episode #1525) 05/14/2019: How do actors bring Shakespeare's lines to life so that modern audiences immediately understand the text? One way is to emphasize the names of people... [more]
- Kite in a Phone Booth (episode #1524) 04/29/2019: Stunt performers in movies have their own jargon for talking about their dangerous work. They refer to a stunt, for example, as a gag. Across... [more]
- Kids Are Asking (episode #1523) 04/11/2019: Questions from young listeners and conversations about everything from shifting slang to a bizarre cooking technique. Kids ask about how to talk about finding information... [more]
- Strawberry Moon (episode #1522) 04/08/2019: We asked for your thoughts about whether cursive writing should be taught in schools — and many of you replied with a resounding "Yes!" You... [more]