the Latin Suffix -logia

By NewLinguist, in 'General Latin Chat (English)', Jun 17, 2010.

  1. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    This really is not a topic you should deal with

    Indo-Germanic languages happen to have 3 genders, which made people refer to them as masculine/feminine and neither. The fact that they have 3 genders is pure chance, though. There are languages in this world that have way more grammatical genders (making the male/female distinction hilarious)
  2. NewLinguist New Member

    Hi Nooj

    I think that both cunnus and κύσθος are masculine, and while crista is feminine in Latin, clitoris is masculine in French, while Kitzler "tickle" is masculine in German. I couldn't find a dictionary with the sex of τιτθός "a teat, a nipple" in it, although I am sure you are correct it is of the masculine gender.

  3. NewLinguist New Member

    Back on topic, the suffix -logia

    Could it not be that: -logia creates first declension nouns, and such nouns could be either masculine or feminine, meaning that the suffix is not restricted to the feminine gender.

    Thus it should be -logia m f instead of just -logia f (

    Also this page ( ... nition.htm) says "3rd declension nouns ending in 'as' in the nominative and 'atis' in the genitive are usually feminine", which implies that -itas is not always feminine meaning that it could also be used to form masculine nouns.
  4. scrabulista Consul

    • Consul
    Lewis and Short ( has 25 words ending in -logia, all feminine.
  5. DaLinguist New Member

    I believe I have some evidence in support of NewLinguist's argument. You see, I've been researching the people near my area (S. Carolina) and have come to an interesting result: apparently, at least in English, American rapper Snoop Dogg is both masculine and feminine because "he's one badass motherf*cker".
  6. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    I could go to point out that "mother" is the object, not the subject... but I won't.
  7. scrabulista Consul

    • Consul
    I would not assume motherf*cker to be a feminine word.

    I might assume widowmaker for instance to be neuter (heavy branches sometimes get this appellation), or possibly masculine (sometimes wild broncos also get this name). I can't think of any situation where I would assume it to be feminine, even though it contains the word "widow."

    The overwhelming number of first posts are either translation requests or introductions.
    I can't help but think that DaLinguist and NewLinguist are the same person.

    I would not infer that any words ending in -itas are masculine based on the statement NewLinguist cites. There are 610 words in Lewis and Short that end in -itas. Even with WORDS, parsing all 610 is quite a task. The most common of them anyway are all feminine.
  8. NewLinguist New Member

    Ok, is it even possible to construct masculine nouns in Latin to refer to an area of study?
  9. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    What a trainwreck of a thread. I've given up on NewLinguist, and I think others would be well advised to do so the same. If he wants to persist with this wrong-headed approach to grammatical gender, that's his business.

    I appreciate the point you're making, but you're wrong about the terminology. "Common gender" is a term that was first applied to Greek and Latin, and its designation as the merged masculine-feminine gender in Dutch and the Nordic languages came much later. The older definition was in use long before any of these languages even existed in a form recognizable today, and probably prior to the merger of the masculine and feminine genders in any known Indo-European language.

    Now technically it isn't a gender at all. It might even be more accurate to say that those nouns which are frequently called "common" are in fact two separate words, e.g. canis m. "dog [in general], male dog" and canis f. "female dog, bitch". But it's much simpler to just put them both in the same category.

    Sometimes nouns which have variable gender (even the Romans sometimes couldn't agree which gender a particular noun belonged to) are also listed as common, but technically this is incorrect because the meaning of the word is not affected one way or the other by the change (a noun like dies being a special case).

    Also incorrect. The word "epicine" (ἐπίκοινος) was used by the Ancient Greeks themselves as a grammatical term for their own language, and it was later borrowed by the Romans as epicoenus (or else calqued as promiscuus). As far as I know it applied only to nouns and not to pronouns.

    In case you don't trust my assertion about the antiquity of these terms, here's a Greek grammarian from the 2nd century BC who lists them (κοινόν = commune):

    A Noun is a declinable part of speech, signifying something either concrete or abstract (concrete, as stone; abstract, as education); common or proper (common, as man, horse; proper, as Socrates. It has five accidents: genders, species, forms, numbers, and cases.
    There are three Genders, the masculine, the feminine, and the neuter. Some add to these two more, the common and the epicene—common, as horse, dog; epicene, as swallow, eagle.
    There are two Species..."

    • Translation by Thomas Davidson.

    Interestingly, the words for "swallow" and "eagle" in Latin (hirundo f. and aquila f.) are also epicene, and of course canis is common, but the word for "horse" has separate gender forms contrary to Greek.

    And if you're looking for a Roman, here's Quintilian:

    "[23] And yet a teacher who has acquired sufficient knowledge himself and is ready to teach what he has learned—and such readiness is all too rare—will not be content with stating that nouns have three genders or with mentioning those which are common to two or all three together. [24] Nor again shall I be in a hurry to regard it as a proof of real diligence, if he points out that there are irregular nouns of the kind called epicene by the Greeks, in which one gender implies both, or which in spite of being feminine or neuter in form indicate males or females respectively, as for instance Muraena and Glycerium."

    • Translation by Harold Edgeworth Butler.

    Unlike Latin, Greek allows neuter nouns to refer to people as well. The word for "child" (τέκνον) is neuter, and even proper names can be neuter by virtue of their being diminutives, which add a neuter suffix in -ιον, whereas Latin diminutives do not change their root word's gender.

    And finally from Aulus Gellius:

    "Homer, however, says that lions (for so he calls the females also, using the masculine gender, or what the grammarians call "epicene") produce and rear many whelps."

    He means that Homer used the masculine word Λέων for both lions and lionesses, i.e. as an epicene noun, though in later Greek the male lion is exclusively meant by that word, and the feminine noun λέαινα is used for "lioness".

    And before you say these terms are completely outdated, they are in fact still in use in many textbooks, as well as in such grammars as Allen and Greenough and such dictionaries as Lewis and Short.
  10. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    More precisely, in the Indo-European languages gender is simply a matter of agreement between adjectives and nouns of different classes.
  11. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    I'd call him chiflado.
  12. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    The earliest grammarians of Indo-European languages, whether Greek, Roman, or Indian, recognized that of the three noun/adjective classes, one tended to be used for males to the exclusion of the others, another for females to the exclusion of the others, and the third applied neither to males nor females (we're talking about male and female humans, of course). It's only natural to then name these gender classes after the natural sex which they tend to represent among people.

    As for the origin of the categories themselves, I think the most widely held theory amongst Indo-Europeanists is that there was originally only two gender classes: an animate and inanimate. The main difference between them was that the animate had distinct nominative and accusative forms, while the inanimate had the same form for both nominative and accusative. The former eventually split in most languages (I think Hittite is the exception) into the masculine and feminine genders, and the latter became the neuter gender.
  13. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    Κλεινόν ἄστυ is an epithet of Athens rather than an alternative name. It literally means "the renowned city". It's neuter because ἄστυ is neuter.
  14. Imber Ranae Ranunculus Iracundus

    • Civis Illustris
    I figured DaLinguist was taking the piss of NewLinguist.
  15. JaimeB Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    San Francisco, CA
    Well, in German, die Sonne is feminine and der Mond is masculine, the opposites of Latin sol (m.) and luna (f.). Where does that leave us on grammatical gender questions? If NewLinguist's generalizations on sex and gender are true, then wouldn't each natural noun (sun, moon, rock, sky) in every language have to have the same gender assignment?

    Did the sun and the moon have a sex-change operation between Latin and German?

    Oh, Gesù bambino! What ever happened to critical thinking? Why is it so hard for some people to distinguish between linguistics and anatomy?
  16. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
    Not entirely sure what happened there ... The words may not even be cognates. Change in gender is not unusual, though; we also have "die Maus" (f-) vs. Latin mus, muris m.
  17. Bitmap Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Cygnea, Gena
  18. NewLinguist New Member

    Hi again Jaime, just to be clear, leaving to one side epicine constructs, the main issue seems to be application of sexes, that is the male and female genders, onto inanimate objects. Now while it seems to be crazy to apply sexes onto inanimate objects, there are clear cases where certain items do take on a sexual gender, as in the case of men's or women's clothing. You would be hard pressed to argue that men's underwear was anything other than a masculine object for example. Thus it becomes clear that inanimate object can actually take on a sexual gender. For me this means that one has to be extremely careful in languages that allow a sexual gender to be placed directly onto nouns representing inanimate objects or abstract nouns, as it is then easy to convey the wrong sexual connotations with the wrong noun choices.

    With regard to applying the same gender to inanimate objects such as the sun, moon, rock, sky, in every language, it is possible as I first suggested by applying only the neuter/common/hesitant gender to all such nouns, which can then by modified with a gender based adjective when application of sexual gender onto such objects is necessary as is the case with English. So it could be done, although it would require structural changes to be applied to languages that apply masculine and feminine genders onto inanimate nouns directly.
  19. JaimeB Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    San Francisco, CA

    As far as I know, no natural language does what you are suggesting in your latest post. Genders usually are passed on from earlier tongues to newer ones, so Romance languages, for example, usually preserve the gender of Latin nouns if they have the cognate, but there are exceptions even here. There is no apparent general reason for this.

    The way gender systems operate in natural languages is completely different from what you are suggesting. I'm still not sure why you want to make the system fit the Procrustean bed of your expectations. Languages just don't behave that way.

    Natural languages aren't made; they evolve, and their origins are lost far in prehistoric times. Gender systems are a common feature of many languages, and they seem to have a redundancy function; i. e., they overload information to help avoid misunderstandings. Why this method should have been one of those chosen is a mystery incarnated in the human brain and its linguistic faculty, which we still do not understand very well.
  20. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    It may be worth noting that Spanish, unlike English, lacks the neuter gender... that makes little sense by the logic being presented here.

    Chinese, I am told, lacks grammatical gender as a whole. I really don't see a need for the concept even in English - "he" and "she" are really arbitrary, and are becoming more so as time passes.

    But, it's just the way things are.

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