Gender Agreement In Spanish

For most English speakers, sex is more a matter of politics than grammar. The English language has only one sex when it comes to living beings who have one sex. Some animals, including humans, have separate words for the male and females of the species: male, female, boy, girl, bull, cow, rooster and hen for example. The English language bases all considerations on sex on the nature of the name in question. There are famous poetic exceptions to this statement, such as ships to be called “them” and so on, but let us leave them in the sublime reals of invention. Lew-Williams, C., and Fernald, A. (2007). Young children who are learning Spanish quickly use grammatical sex to recognize spoken words. Psychol. Sci. 18, 193–198. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9280.2007.01871.x The feminine (femenino): names that end on -a (casa `Haus`, boca`, `Mund`) and the names that refer to women (madre `mother`, mujer `woman, wife`) are usually feminine.

Similarly, the endings -ción, -sión, -dad, -tad and umbre indicate the female sex. Exceptionally, día (“Tag”), mapa (“map”) and sofá (“sofa”) are masculine. Similarly, names of Greek origin that end in -ma (drama, problema) or “-ta” (“planeta”, “profeta”) are men. (These “Greek” nouns can often be identified by their derived adjectives that end on -tico.) Parafita Couto et al. (2015) studied grammatical strategies for gender attribution between Spanish-Basque NPS in naturalistic language and auditory judgment data. Basque is different from Spanish and English in its morphological behavior and sequence of NP words. In Basque, the particular determinant -a appears with the suffix of the noun (z.B. “sagarr-a”, the apple), which happens to be homophone with the regular feminine endings in Spanish (z.B. “la manzana”). Naturalistic data indicated a preference for the female determinator when congruent with the Basque phonological extension -a, which provided converging evidence of the role of the phonological form of a name in sex attribution.

“Lo” is neutral, general, does not refer to a word, therefore no correspondence, and is normally translated as “the thing”. Barber, H., and Carreiras, M. (2005). Comparison of genders and grammatical numbers in Spanish: an ERP comparison. J. Cogn. Neurosci. 17, 137–153. .

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