gender - What is the morphological root for the letters [a] and [o] to mark, respectively, the feminine and masculine genders? - Portuguese Language Stack Exchange

As you know, nouns in Latin had five declensions, which are like conjugations of the verb, and were distinguished by a thematic vowel:

The first declension, with a theme in a , contained mainly feminine names, but some masculine ones like nauta ​​em> "marujo" and agricola

The second declension, with a theme in o (in the classical period, this o it is not the case that it is written "u" in the nominative and accusative cases, but the theme is "o"), it contained mainly masculine and neutral names, but some feminine ones, like fagus beech and > Prunus "plum tree" (usually tree names or Greek cities);

The third declension, with theme in i

The fourth declension, with a theme in u , contained few names, mostly masculine; And

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The fifth declension, with a theme in and , contained very few names, the vast majority of women.

In the classical era, there was a tendency for the fourth and fifth declension to disappear, absorbed in the second and the first, respectively. There were then three declinations in the Latin of the Dark Ages: one with mostly feminine names and ending with a , one with mostly masculine names and ending with the , and one with names All types and terminated with i (later transformed into e) or consonant.

Latin adjectives fell into two classes: in the first, masculine and neutral forms ended with us and a , respectively, and the feminine ended in To : for example, the adjective bonus (m) bona (f) bonum (n). In the second, the masculine and feminine forms all ended with and or i : for example, adjective fortis / Em> (f) strong (n). Therefore, in adjectives, we also have the same situation as nouns: masculine forms ending in the , feminine forms ending in a , and other forms that do not end in either Two, but often do not change from masculine to feminine.

As you can see, as Latin evolved into Portuguese, we ended up having theme classes in o And a which were mostly male and female, and a class of words that did not end either one or the other, but which had no great tendency for any of the genres.

So, thanks to some analog leveling (for example, the trees have had names ending in a so that fagus turned fagea In> became "beech"), the phonemes the and a at the end of the nouns eventually became gender markers in languages Latinas who have not lost them, such as Portuguese, Spanish and Italian.

  • Adam Floyd