Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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According to the Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis, the grammatical system of a language influences the perception and categorization of the reality of its speakers. Gender, as a grammatical category, should have such an influence, too. Gender is a grammatical category found in many languages, especially Indo-European languages. It concerns the categorization of nouns in those languages into groups: masculine, feminine, and, in languages with three genders, neuter. There is still much divergence of opinion as to the origin and connotation of gender. Some linguists and grammarians believe that gender is merely a meaningless form (Fodor 1959). Some believe that gender has connotation of sex (Ervin 1962, Konoshi 1994), and others believe that gender has other connotations such as concreteness-abstractness (Müller 1898, cited in Fodor 1959). However, even those who claim that gender has meaning must accept that its degree of semantic transparency is quite low, as evidenced in that not all masculine nouns refer to male beings, and not all feminine nouns refer to female beings, even if they generally do. The imperfect correlation of gender and sex is the starting point of this study. I would like to see whether, in the case of languages with gender, speakers describing animate being whose sex does not correlate with the gender of nouns referring to them choose to follow their grammar and indicate the sex of the animate being. I would also like to examine whether the number of genders in a language affect the degree to which its speakers choose to indicate gender or sex (i.e., to see whether the speakers of languages with different numbers of genders indicate gender and sex in different degrees.) The present study was conducted on two languages with different numbers of genders: Hindi, a language with two genders, and German, a language with three genders. These two languages belong to the same language family, Indo-European, so that with the exception of gender number, they should have many common characteristics.

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