Replies: 19 - Last Post: Mar 13, 2013 6:42 PM Last Post By: VinnyD
Mar 6, 2013 12:50 AM
countriesIs there any cogent explanation for why in German, ALL countries are by gender neutre, except two in the Middle East: DER Iran, DER Irak.
The fact that Turkey is female, I attribute to the ending. In the same way you can say "das Mongolien", or "DIE Mongolei".
By comparison, Dutch seems to be consistent in using neutral gender, whereas French uses both genders across the world...
Mar 6, 2013 5:24 AM
1Other exceptions: der Jemen, die Scheiz.
I was going to say that maybe it's because Land is neuter but city names are also generally neuter and it's die Stadt. So that's not it. Makes life a little easier no matter what the cause.
Mar 6, 2013 6:20 AM
2Well, die USA, die UDSSR, die DDR, die BRD, don't know why??
Mar 6, 2013 6:51 AM
3Languages generally have a default rule for something for when they have to deal with new or unfamiliar words. In English, when we come across a new or unfamiliar noun like, say, sploofrild, everyone will automatically form its plural as sploofrilds, not as sploofrildren. That is because we know that the specific rule ild-->ildren only applies to the word child and compounds thereof.
Languages then vary in the extent to which the default rule applies widely with only a few exceptions, or whether there are specific rules for most things with the default rule applying rarely. For example, in English the default rule for forming plurals applies most of the time with only a few exceptions. Whereas German does have a default rule for forming plurals, (iirc, it's add s) but I have read (in one of Pinker's books) that in a typical German text only 20% of the words will need to access that rule, and 80% have a specific rule. I understand that in Welsh you also have to learn a specific plural for a lot of words in the dictionary, and in Russian you have to learn a specific perfective for most verbs in the dictionary. Nevertheless, people know what to do when faced with a new word.
I suspect that this is the kind of thing that is going on.
Mar 6, 2013 7:33 AM
Mar 6, 2013 7:39 AM
Which countries do you have in mind? Off the top of my head I can't think of many countries that are identified with any gender at all, and those that are, are not neutral: de Verenigde Staten (the US), de Verenigde Arabische Emiraten, de Centraal-Afrikaanse Republiek, de Sovjet-Unie, de Dominicaanse Republiek. All of these take "de" because the subject is plural (Staten, Emiraten) or female (republiek, unie).
Mar 6, 2013 8:54 AM
7There's likely to be a distinction in grammatical treatment in many languages between a country name formed of a phrase made up of multiple grammatical parts, such as (The) Adjective1 Institution of Adjective2 Name1 and Adjective3 Name2, (being the one I live in) as opposed to those that are just simply Name.
Mar 7, 2013 2:01 AM
Mar 7, 2013 3:43 AM
9"die Schweiz" is short for "die Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft"
more exceptions: "die Ukraine", "der Libanon", "der Vatikan". "der Kongo"
Mar 11, 2013 1:06 PM
Mar 11, 2013 5:26 PM
11In what context? Turkey and Iran are referred to as Turkije and Iran, no article.
One might in rare instances have occasion to speak of "het Iran van de toekomst" ("the Iran of the future"), say, or "het Turkije dat Erdogan nu al tien jaar regeert" (no exact English translation for that; "the Turkey that Erdogan has been governing for ten years already"; "the Turkish nation that has been governed by Erdogan for ten years already"), but all normal references to Turkey and Iran do not involve an article.
Mar 12, 2013 3:12 AM
Mar 12, 2013 7:43 AM
Mar 12, 2013 8:14 AM
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