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Re: Gender in language (was Re: way-OT: regularity of german v. english [was: <snip>])

* Erik Steffl (steffl@bigfoot.com) wrote:
> Ron Johnson wrote:
> ...

> > - Why English doesn't have gender, since it's predecessor, German,
> >   does have gender?
>    looks like a lot of unneccessary stuff was removed from english 
> language (last century or two?), as far as I can tell it's because it's 
> used as a non-native language for pragmatic purposes (i.e. as long as 
> the message gets accross it's all good:-)
Strictly speaking, English did not descend from German, but they have
a common ancestry in a version that was spoken during the time the
Romans were in power.  Angles, Jutes, and Saxons invaded England over
a period of time and pushed the Celtic peoples into Wales and
Scotland, and Anglo-Saxon (which was a synthetic language like Latin)
became dominant.  Then William the Conqueror arrived in 1066 (and all
that) and the language of the upper class was then Norman French.
Over a period of time, the two languages more or less fused, and along
with a major shift in pronunciation in the 14th to 15th centuries
(which is why English-speaking people tend to so badly mispronounce
words in other languages), all case endings and outward gender
references were squeezed out, in favour of word order.  English still
uses gender, most obviously in pronouns, but you don't get the "der"
and "die" distinction that is characteristic of German.  If you want
to know what Anglo-Saxon was like, go to the islands off the coast of



Cam Ellison Ph.D. R.Psych.
From Roberts Creek on B.C.'s incomparable Sunshine Coast

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