January 24th, 2010

Grammatical Gender: A Non-Sapir-Whorfist Analysis?

Is anyone familiar with any publications which describe or hypothesise why/how grammatical gender/noun classes developed in a language or languages without resorting to fuzzy pseudo-sociolinguistic/cultural arguments, which are usually tautologies in any case (e.g. "in the Spanish-speaking world, the moon embodies typically feminine qualities")?

The only "practical" function of them I can find is the possibility of n-way anaphoric binding for n genders - e.g. German Er liegt zwischen ihm und ihr ('he lies between it and her') could accurately describe the placement of utensils on a dining table (der Löffel 'the spoonMASC', das Messer 'the knifeNEUT', die Gabel 'the forkFEM')... or for the confusion of 2nd-language learners. However, while some languages feature 10 or more noun classes (e.g. Bantu languages), there are a great many languages which work just fine without any.

(Granted, this argument could hold reasonably well for inflection, lexical accent, lexical tone, tense, aspect...)

Research help. Cheer-leader

Hello, dear linguaphiles. I do my research work in linguistic anthropology - I study cheer-leaders as a cultural phenomenon. As a part of this research I am to analyze small compositions on the topic.

Please write several sentences continuing from the following: WHEN I THINK ABOUT a cheer-leader THE FOLLOWING PICTURES OR SITUATIONS COME TO MY MIND...

Please, describe the typical cheer-leader as you see him/her.

Please, provide the following information (It's OPTIONAL, but will be very helpful):
1. Country/state in the US
2. Age
3. gender
4. occupation

Thanks in advance - this community has been of great help in my research work :))

30 Days hath September...?

As I was trying to remember recently whether January had 30 or 31 days, I thought to myself - do other languages have a saying or some mnemonic device to remember the idiosyncracies of the Gregorian calendar? What about for other, non-Gregorian calendars?

Just curious.