Gender (definition)

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Grammatical gender, in the linguistics sense, refers to classes of particular nouns based on their inflectional endings and over all word structure. This is not be confused with the sex related gender, often referred to as 'biological gender,' which is used in cases where the grammatical gender agrees with the biological sex of the concept to which a noun refers. This means that words such as 'woman' would have feminine gender and 'man' would have masculine gender due to the fact that they are biologically defined as something feminine or masculine. Many languages that use cases also exhibit grammatical gender, as is the case with German, Russian and French, as well as Scottish Gaelic.

Examples in other languages


In languages like Russian, gender is rather predictable and is based upon the ending of the word (in most cases). Russian has 3 genders - masculine, feminine and neuter:

Masculine/Мужской род Feminine/Женский род Neuter/Средний род
ends in a consonant ends in an 'а' or 'я' ends in an 'о' or 'е'
ex: стол (table), город (city) ex: книга (book), Россия (Russia) ex: окно (window), приглашение (invitation)


In languages like German, gender is less consistent; however it often times can be determined by derivational endings:

die Madel - the maiden (biological determined). das Mädchen - the girl (-chen always assigns neuter gender to a word, regardless of biological gender).

das Leben - life die Lebenigkeit - vitality (keit/heit indicates 'the state of being X' and always assigns feminine gender).

entschulden - to apologize/to pardon die Entschuldigung - apology (-ung assigns feminine gender and nominalizes verbs). ''HOWEVER'' der Sprung - spring, bounce (-ung in this case does not assign gender because it is NOT derivational; Sprung is a word in its own right and is not derived from a verb).

der Berg - mountain das Gebirge - mountain range (Ge- indicates collectives and is often times accompanied by a vowel mutation. It assigns neuter gender).

Examples in Scottish Gaelic

In Scottish-Gaelic, nouns belong principally to two grammatical genders: masculine and feminine. This affects the lenition of initial consonants for adjectives as well as the initial consonants of verb initial nouns when the definite article is used.

See Also

External Links

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  • Matthews, P. H. (1997) The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Crystal, David (1999) The Penguin Dictionary of Language. London: Penguin.