Motivating the DM
- The "grammatical gender" of female persons, and few very similar things, that in many varieties of the West German language group and few related languages, follow both the neuter grammatical gender declension, and the female grammatical gender declension, depending on the grammatical context and language specifics. Language groups having this gender include e.g. most of the Palatininean, Moselle-Franconian, Ripuarian, and the Rhineland and Ruhr Regiolects. This is not widely seen as a grammatical gender on its own, but rather a special case of nouns the gender of which varies, or is unclear, or has special cases, depending on language and author. On a formal level, however, it complements the other three genders of these languages.
Here are few remarks further clarifying what this defined meaning is all about.
Background, technical, decisionmaking
This "grammatical gender" pertains almost only to female persons and their names. To be more exact, it includes some living beings when seen either in their family relations, or relating to their owners or masters, or almost anything spoken about in an anthropomorphic view, or anything (nick)named by a female name.
Whether or not it constitues a gramatical gender is disputable. Certain is:
- it does neither denote exact neuter, nor exact feminine
- most usually declension is identical to neuter, or identical to female, alternating with use cases
- on very rare occasions it has its truly own grammatical forms but only in very few languages
- it appears related between those many languages, mostly West German, and some related ones
- phenomenologically, it seems related to the fact that, in German as well as in West German varieties, several of the words for "girl", "wife", "woman", etc. are grammatical neuter.
- often, one can add an unspoken, or hidden, classifyer such as girl, woman, miss, missis, daughter, etc. to the sentences in question, in front of the expression in question, so as to motivate, or even explain, the declensions, and other grammar, of use cases. I have no evidence that that would always work, though. Speakers interviewed decline this relation, they apparently do not think along such lines.
It is not widely seen as a grammatical gender on its own, rather a special case, an oddity, etc. and explaned as such in local language grammars. Since German grammar is traditionally almost entirely derived from Latin grammar (-: even often it was believed 'grammar' was universal, only languages were not :-) there is little inclination to be very realistic, or formal, about anything not matching the basic schemes of Latin Grammar. Most literature on the vernacular is not from grammar experts, there are quite many grammar-agnostic dictionaries of the languages in question.
Formally, however, one must distinguish this one from the other, more usual, grammatical genders. Even if it seems never associated with extra declensed forms, and hardly has 1, or very few, extra other grammatical forms, you:
- obviously have to technically differenciate it from the rest of the grammar forms of the languages concerned inside OmegaWiki somehow,
- and you cannot technically differenciate it from the rest, unless you either:
- make it a grammatical gender of its own, or
- give expressions the property "grammatical gender" of "neuter", and use a grammatical property, or several, to mark the differences
- give expressions the "female" grammatical gender property, and use another grammatical property, or several, marking the differences
(Choices ordered by technical complexity) I decided for the technically easiest way (1), which likely is also the most modern grammatical approach, but hardly found in literature up to now.
Leo Braun; Eschweiler Geschichtsverein (Editor): Eschweiler Mundartwörterbuch - Wie me bei os sprich, (408 pages), Eschweiler, 2003. ISBN 3-9803354-5-3
Page 19 reads:
|Grammatische Erklärungen||Grammatical Explanations|
|Im Genitiv: …||…|
|Eigenartig ist: Wenn eine Frau nur mit ihrem Namen benannt wird, wird sie grammatisch zum Neutrum (sächlich), z. B.:||Peculiar: whenever a woman in denoted by her name only, she becomes a grammatical neuter, e.g.:|
|Marii es op enge Mann am waade (Maria wartet auf ihren Mann).|| "Mary is waiting for |
|Trautsche kött met seng Doete (Traudchen kommt mit ihrer Tochter).|| "Little Trudy comes with |
|Aber: Tant Marii es op höere Mann am waade (Tante Maria wartet auf ihren Mann)||But: "Aunt Mary is waiting for her husband."|
|Einige Hauptwörter …||…|
→ Summarized: sometimes the neuter, and sometimes female declension is used (in one of the West-most variants of Ripuarian)
In the German edition of Wikipedia, we read:
Artikel und grammatisches Geschlecht
Auch an der Westpfalz ist die Emanzipation nicht spurlos vorbei gegangen. So beobachtet man zunehmend und vor allem im städtischen Bereich (Kaiserslautern, Pirmasens) die Verwendung von „die“ statt „es“ vor weiblichen Vornamen.
[…] In Folge dessen schleicht sich zunehmend das wertneutrale Fremdwort „sie“ in den Sprachgebrauch.
Womens names are ([…]) basically neuter in the Palatiniean, but […]
→ Summarized: both female and neuter declensions are used (in Palatinean varieties of Rhine-Franconian)
In the German edition of Wikipedia, there is to be read:
Frauennamen sind im Siegerländischen grundsätzlich sächlich: „dt/dat Martha“. […] Zu beachten ist: bei Frauen, die zur Verwandtschaft gehören, wird im Nominativ stets sächliches Geschlecht genutzt („Heddat is oos Mamme.“ – „Das ist unsere Mutter.“); im Akkusativ und vor allem im Dativ ist aber auch weibliches Geschlecht gebräuchlich („Mir goa noa ooser Omma.“ – „Wir gehen zu unserer Oma.“).
Womens names are basically neuter in the Siegerland Platt […] You must note that, for women among ones relative, in the nominative always the neuter gender is used ([…]); in the accusative, and especially in the dative, the female gender is in use as well. ([…])
→ In other words: sometimes female, sometimes neuter declension is used (in the North-East-most Moselle Franconian variant)
Rudolf Picard: Solinger Sprachschatz - Wörterbuch und sprachwissenschaftliche Beiträge zur Solinger Mundart. Walter Braun Verlag, Duisburg. 1974. ISBN 3-870096-121-X
On page 392, and 393, it elaborates on die geschlechtslosen Siedlungsnamen (genderless names of settlements) some of which apparently are follwing two grammatical traits (arbitrarily?) I have no clear idea wether or not this relates to our case, but considerable doubt based on several reasons.
There are books that one could expect to mention this grammar phenomenon in one way or another. Some don't. So as to avoid duplicate lookup, here they are. (Why do they not note the phenomenon? Some are (a) pure dictionaries, there is no grammar part, or a very skimmy one; (b) subject languages may not have it; (c) lay authors did not mention presumed "irregularities"; it is (d) hidden in sample sentences inside word articles; etc.. :-) Also, it may be there, but was not found)
• ISBN 90-5433-128-9 (Jömelejer Plat) • • ISBN 3-7743-0243-X (Kölsch) (a) • • ISBN 3-920388-17-8 (Kowelenzer Platt) (d), needs further research • • ISBN 3-87096-167-8 (Maierksch Plat) (a) • • ISBN missing (Hüppersch Plot (1989)) (a) • • ISBN 3-923140-03-7 (Kriewelsch) (a) (b) • • ISBN 3-9807395-1-1 (Kriewelsch) (a) (b) • • ISBN (none) Kurt Hausmann, Ursula Versteegen, Theo Versteegen: Krieewelsch op de Reeh jebreit, Kurzgrammatik der Krefelder Mundart (b) as of p.12 and p.16 • • ISBN (none) Ludwig Hügen: Niederrheinisches Mundart-Wörterbuch (a) • • ISBN 3-7927-1739-5 (Dremmener Platt) (b) p.324 • • ISBN 3-7927-1472-8 (Rinbäärks Plat) (b) p.22-p.27 • • ISBN 3-7927-1056-0 (Grafschafter Platt) (a) • • ISBN 3-7927-0783-7 (Platt der unteren Sieg) (a) • • ISBN 3-7927-0689-X (rheinische Platt) (a) •
Did you invent that concept? I cannot find any reference to the terms "weibliche Person", "female person" or "Frouminsch" used in that context anywhere (for example in Wikipedia, or in your explanation above). We are not supposed to create new words in Omegawiki...
Also, the definition is too long (rather encyclopedic-style than dictionary-definition) which makes it also unclear. For the sake of clarity, definitions in a dictionary are supposed to be concise. --Kipcool 08:05, 22 March 2009 (EDT)
- I am going to add sources as I dig them up. There are some I know, and about a hundred at least of potential ones that I suspect to maybe or likely mention the phenomenon. It will take me about a man-month of labour at various libraries, or more, to find and cite them. If findings justify, I am prepared for an own publication about the subject matter, so there will be a source sooner or later.
- As to clarity, there are two sides to it. (1) People used to languages having the phenomenon will know at once what it is about. They may or may not have a grammatical understanding of it, and may or may not be able to see it as a phenomenon of grammar at all. (2) People speaking languages not having the phenomenon likely will not need to deal with it at all, other than translating the definition, or the DM.
- Of course did I not invent the phenomenon. Knowing since about two years or so that we will have to deal with it (having hundreds of use cases of various languages that I heared) when we want to have a complete mapping of the grammar properties of Kölsch and Palatinean here. (Don't know about Luxembourgish and Limburgian yet)
- Having taken special interest in computational translation and formal grammar stuff during my universty time already, I can tell for sure that the phänomenon of a 4th gender - or whatever you want to call it - has to be taken into OmegaWikis database. How to exactly represent it, may be a matter of taste and opportunity. I am utterly desinterested in a naming debate, may others find good names in their respective languages, I mainly want to prepare the needs for having declensed forms available (semi)automated. Among these needs are grammatical gender data, including the need to know that a noun word or noun expression, unlike others, uses both female and neuter declension depending on context, without a chance to postulate 2 different definitions for it. In Kölsch, both the given name Maria and Maria, mother of Jesus, may serve as samples. An interesting site note may be that the usual given name is not Maria but Marie in Kölsch, and "Marie" in female declension almost always means money, while in neuter declension it inevitably refers to a female person of that name (or anything nicknamed so), who, in some contexts, nevertheless exhibits female declensed forms.
- --Purodha Blissenbach 11:54, 22 March 2009 (EDT)
I agree with Kipcool. It is a grammatical oddity that Kölsch treats females as neuter in some cases and that's something to be explained in grammar books. At this point I am hesitant to introduce a 4th grammatical gender or other grammatic category into OmegaWiki unless there is broad consensus about it in the linguistic community. OmegaWiki still lacks many important features, so I think it's premature to add concepts that aren't even widely accepted.
IMHO it is just a case of diverging grammatical and biological gender (Sexus). Female first names are classified as neuter, yet denote female persons. The same applies to Expression:Weib, or Expression:Mädchen (which by the way is neuter because it's a diminutive). So maybe OmegaWiki needs a feature to indicate biological gender. For now the annotation "Usage" could be used to explain any oddities. --Tosca 13:11, 22 March 2009 (EDT)
- Classifying females first names is not a solution, leaving too many holes. :-(
- Using an annotation "Usage" for a systematic phememon, cant be one either. Computing grammatical forms from a textual annotation is the wrong approach. There are way too many cases for text to be useful. :-(
- I have doubt that "biological gender" would really do, but naming is not my concern anyways. That leaves us with some sort of flag (truly or often coinciding with 'biological female').
- … which leaves us exactly with what I wrote above: We can choose between three implementations 1. call it a special (4th) gender, 2. call it a special case of the neuter gender, 3. call it special case of the female gender.
- From a systemic standpoint, the obvious symmetry between 2. and 3. lets 1. appear preferential.
- Implementation details currently let me see choice 1. as the better one.
- --Purodha Blissenbach 02:31, 23 March 2009 (EDT)
- You said I am utterly desinterested in a naming debate <== OmegaWiki is, in the first place, a dictionary. It is all about naming debates... i.e. you have words/expressions that you find in books, and want to give them a definition. Not the other way around like here: you have a grammatical usage, and you want to give a name and a DM to it.
- If it is only about a grammatical annotation for other words (a DM for the OW database then),
- It should be flagged as such (which it is not for the moment): See Expression:part of speech in the "collections" part.
- It should be discussed before adding the flag and reach an agreement, at least with GerardM, since it is about the database structure, and with the community Meta:International Beer Parlour.
- It is also specified in your definition that Dieses wird vielfach nicht als eigenständiges grammatisches Geschlecht betrachtet, sondern als eine Sonderfallgruppe von Hauptwörtern, die ihr grammatischer Geschlecht wechselt, deren grammatisches Geschlecht nicht eindeutig festgelegt ist, oder gewisse Ausnahmen besitzt, je nach Sprache und Autor., meaning it is a bit tough that you decide alone that it will be so in OmegaWiki...
Good points, thank you. Yes this is meant to be a grammatical classifier, or property, for other words of rather technical use
- to get grammar forms right,
- to determine which ones are available, which ones are not.
Did I mark the DM for the OW database correctly now?
This is a wiki, so things can easily be tried out and amended. I am not going to use this DM beyond a small set of samples before discussion concluded. Since it applies only to Kölsch (noone working on Palatinean) it won't harm.
Last time I talked about it with GerardM, years ago, he said "When we have grammatical annotatons, it is your job to specify them for Kölsch." which I did. Adding only the ones already present in other languages (that Kölsch has, too) left this case open.
I see, like you, that the subject matter should be discussed. That is why I started this page. I did so also to collect published findings, and to point experts here, asking them for their opinions and comments. --Purodha Blissenbach 09:23, 23 March 2009 (EDT)
- The problem I have with this is that it's not evident for readers that this DM is still "under development". A dictionary defines well-established concepts in a concise manner and gives correct and widely used translations, but this DM does neither. It is original research and as such it should be in your user space or in an appendix for Kölsch grammar but not in the main space. --Tosca 10:27, 23 March 2009 (EDT)