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Assaf_HSunday 16th of January 2005 03:45:24 AM
Gender Categories - I've been wondering. Is there any rule to help me decide whether a word is masculine, feminine or neuter?

Jeremy87Sunday 16th of January 2005 06:54:24 AM
- Masculine words usually end in a consonant or u. Masculine words are usually names of male humans, animals, birds; Nationalities of males, and professions; Also the months of the year, most types of trees, and mountain chains. 'Un' is the indefinite article for masculine words. 'Unu' is the masculine one, doi is the masculine two.
Român = Romanian (male)
metru = meter

feminine words usually end in ă, e, ie, or ea. also endings like -toare, -oare, -are, -ere, -ire. Usually the names of female humans, female animals, female birds; The nationalities of females (changed from the masculine), and professions; Names of most countries unless it doesn't end in "a"; seasons of the year, and days of weeks; Most names of fruits unless they end in something other then a, ă, or e. 'o' is the indefinite article for feminine words, una is the feminine one, două is the feminine 2.
iarnă = Winter
curte = yard
lecţie = lesson
cafea = coffee

Neuter words are a bit harder. They are masculine in the singular, and feminine in the plural. So un in singular and două in plural. They can end in a consonant, ou, or iu. Neuter words also are the names of human body parts, except ochi, and genunchi (eyes, knee: masculine); mână, and gleznă (hand, ankle: feminine).
lac = lake
birou = desk
fotoliu = armchair

Some neuter words are also borrowed words from other languages. Usually borrowed words that are inanimate objects.
rbrumaMonday 17th of January 2005 04:11:36 PM
- Great lesson, Jeremy, thanks.

Just as a curiosity, there's only one feminine Romanian word ending in '-i':

zi = day (pl. zile)
sandmanMonday 17th of January 2005 04:26:46 PM
- hmmm, the "cojocaru romanian grammar" says tanti (aunt) and weekdays names are feminine too

i'll continue later on it, since i've got some questions.
that grammar book is not clear sometimes.

rbrumaMonday 17th of January 2005 04:49:51 PM
- I took that information from the Academy Grammar, which is so far the only definitive reference that I'm aware of, even if it is old.

Maybe what they want to say is that 'zi' is the only 'normal' feminine word ending in '-i' (which has all the forms like plurals, cases, etc).

The days of the week are feminine because 'day' is implied in them (Luni = Monday is actually (ziua de) luni). And 'tanti' is an imported word, with alternate spellings (my grandmother wrote it 'tante'), whose forms are not declinable in the normal way (all the forms are identical with the nominative and it takes a lot to figure out how to properly make a genitive for example) and whose meaning is unclear (at least to me).
sandmanMonday 17th of January 2005 05:41:34 PM
- i in no way meant you was not telling the truth, since your messages are always very accurate and careful. and i really appreciate it.

as for the answer, i wonder only whether this academy grammar is available online or it's a paper book.
and i wonder, if there are other loanwords, which end in -i and act as feminine (e.g. when modified by adjectives or posessive pronouns)
sandmanMonday 17th of January 2005 06:31:42 PM
- here are the questions i was talking about.

from the cojocaru romanian grammar book i've got that all the nouns ending in -a or -ea or -ia have their last syllable stressed and are feminine. is it true ? i need a confirmation since this is a derived statement, it is not said exactly like that in the book. and i doubt it regarding the names of countries.
and can those nouns be a problem, assuming the definite article ? (i mean other nouns which end in -a being articulated with this article)

is the list of masculine nouns ending in -ă, given in that book, exhaustive ? (tată, popă, Papă )

are all trees names ending in common feminine endings feminine, and in common masculine endings - masculine ?

what is the point telling that the seasons of the year are feminine since their ending is -ă anyways ?

and correct me, if i'm wrong if the following sentence doesn't clear anything about the gender assignment (assuming the information on endings in different genders was given above in the book):
"the following nouns are feminine:
- most nouns designating fruits: pară pear, portocală orange, banană banana, lămâie lemon, etc.; there are, however, names of fruits that are masculine or neuter: ananas pineapple (m.), măr apple (n.), mango mango (n.), etc."
it seems to me that such statement can be made about almost any class of nouns %) or the examples are not so good.

is the list of nouns designating human body parts, which are not neuter, exhaustive ?
(masc. - ochi, genunchi. fem. - mână, gleznă )
is the statement 'when choosing between neuter and masculine, if the noun designates a human body part is not ochi, genunchi, then it is neuter' right ? i just want to get rid of the feminine here, for simplicity, because mână and gleznă have exclusive feminine ending -ă.
rbrumaMonday 17th of January 2005 07:06:55 PM
- You raise a very sensible problem here and you're right, the approach in almost all grammars is very unclear.

In order to give you some definite answers to your questions, I promise a post tomorrow, after I check the Academy Grammar (which exists only on paper, as far as I know) and other several books that I have at home.

What I can say now is this:

- there is absolutely no point in saying that the seasons are feminine, once you have established the rule that the nouns in '-ă' are feminine (with some exceptions).

- there is no point of specifying rules for different classes of nouns when you can have a phonetic rule that implies them too

- about the body parts, the list is certainly not exhaustive; e.g. :

'ureche' (pl. urechi (fem)) = ear
gură = mouth (obviously fem.)

I think the best is:

1. to learn some simple phonetic rules
2. for every rule, note if there are exceptions
3. learn some frequently used exceptions and make a note if the list is exhaustive or not.

As I said, bear with me 'till tomorrow. I will post a more detailed note which will hopefully answer your concerns.

Thanks & Regards
sandmanMonday 17th of January 2005 09:07:36 PM
- thanks, Răzvan
i'm looking forward to your messages
i hope it doesn't kill too much of your personal time

working this way we'll be able soon to build own grammar book %) which will follow the most reasonable approaches including the one you described.

rbrumaTuesday 18th of January 2005 05:07:32 PM
- Here is the first draft of what might be called 'Rules to establish noun gender for foreign students' :)

1. Nouns ending in -ă, -ea, -a, -are, -ere, -ire are feminine.

Exceptions exist possibly for all /* research! */. The only ones I am aware of right now are for those in

'-ă' : tată (father), popă (priest), papă (Pope), vlădică (old churh official denomination, bishop), paşă (officer in the Ottoman Empire) -- all masc., list not exhaustive but others are unlikely to be of real use (old/unused/dialectal)

2. The only fem. nouns ending in '-i' are 'zi' (day) and the days of the week, which imply the former

3. There's no fem. noun ending in a consonant

4. Masc. & Neuters end in consonant, '-i', '-u', '-e'. There is no phonetic rule to help distinguish between them.

5. Some (very few) neuters end in '-o' : radio, macro

6. Nouns denominating animate beings that are not feminine are masculine /* are there any outstanding exceptions? */

Obs: Distinguishing between masc & neuters is virtually impossible at phonetic levels. Worse, it is unlikely that they can be distinguished at semantic level either, with the exception of rule 6 above. These have to be learned with their gender.

Observations & comments to improve this set of rules are greatly appreciated.


sandmanTuesday 18th of January 2005 07:43:00 PM
- i think some specific engings should be included, such as for neuter: -ism, -ment, -mânt, -ut, -aj;
for feminine: -âre, -iune, -tate, -ie, -ee

and maybe:
for masculine: -or, -tor, -ar, -er, -ic, -ist, -an, -ean, -ân, -ez
for feminine: -ară, -oară, -iţă, -istă, -ancă, -eancă, -âncă, -ână, -eză, -oaică

i think the latter are not too useful, since the rules 'all human male/female persons, professions, nationalities are masculine/feminine' and 'all nouns with -ă are feminine' imply them. they just can serve as examples then (i hope there're no exceptions for them).
rbrumaFriday 21st of January 2005 09:40:39 PM
- You're right about those 'specific endings' that are not covered by previous rules.

I will add them and post the whole bunch as a new topic. A 'Reference' one. I suppose in time we can add others, usefull, one-page reference topics that can be printed out and used when needed. Some kind of a 'non-standard' grammar.

sandmanMonday 24th of January 2005 03:07:28 PM
- that's a great idea, Răzvan
i guess it could be something like a 'sticky' toc topic with the links to concrete parts, as in other discusss

and i think we could also create a 'wishlist' topic, where everybody will be able to ask for a new reference part to be developed

one more note - there's an exception for the '-o' rule - the 'cacao' which is feminine, not neuter