the Latin Suffix -logia

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

  1. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    are you still arguing with NewLinguist?

    ...

    lol
  2. JaimeB Civis Illustris

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    Not arguing, exactly, just trying to talk sense, but it doesn't seem to work with him. He's got his own ideas, and he's not about to abandon them, it seems...
  3. NewLinguist New Member

    I can't think of any languages that applied gender in such a way naturally, although English artificially changed from applying masculine and feminine genders directly onto their nouns to removing it completely by passing at least one act of parliament. Without any gender being applied directly onto nouns, it effectively changed all of the nouns to the neuter gender as in English there are no gender specific articles such as el, la (Spanish), il/elle (French) or il, lo, la (Italian), meaning that English nouns typically cannot be seen as belonging to the common or hestiant genders. Thus the sun, moon, stars, and universe do not by default have an attached sexual gender in English. Even agent nouns such as doctor, although they apply to both males and females, do not inflect according to the sex of the doctor and thus cannot strictly be seen as of the masculine, feminine, common or hesitant genders. There are some exceptions such as actor/actress or king/queen, and nouns referring directly to males and females such as man/woman, father/mother, brother/sister which are clearly not neutral nouns as they each carry a sex. In order to add a sex onto nouns in English, one must typically use an adjective that encapsulates a sexual gender for example: "that is a masculine house", or "that a dainty hatch-back car" (implied feminine).

    Jaime I think you already mentioned Swedish, Dutch, Danish and Norwegian in an earlier post, where they changed from having three genders, masculine feminine and neuter, and then they merged the masculine and feminine into a new common gender and retained the neuter gender. So it seems that these languages have already had some significant structural overhauls in regard to gender. It should also be possible to do something similar with Latin and other romance languages without too much difficulty.

    Interestingly even constructed or artificial languages do not necessarily exclude the application of sexes onto nouns directly for example in Esperanto doktoro(j) means "doctor(s)" (male or unspecified sex), while doktorino(j) means "female doctor", although Ido and Interlingua operate closer to English in this regard.
  4. JaimeB Civis Illustris

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    In the Scandinavian languages the genders fell together because the distinctions became harder and harder to hear as sound shifts proceeded in the language. These changes are never planned, and since Latin is no longer a spoken language, but survives only in a frozen form, there will be no further changes in Latin. Any changes there would have been in Latin have taken place instead in the survivor languages, those of the Romance family. If you care to study them, you can see how they worked out.

    There was never any act of Parliament abolishing the gender system in the English language. Languages respond only to their own internal laws; they are impervious to political legislation.
  5. NewLinguist New Member

    Are you certain there was no centrality to these developments in gender? Also there should be nothing preventing anyone from creating a modern version of Latin if they so choose, particularly if the use of Latin by the Vatican continues into the future, and could this not include structural changes to the gender system?

    I had a closer look at the implementation of the gender system in English and found that Old English, which was used from the mid fifth century until the mid twelth century every noun was masculine, feminine, or neuter, and the determiners, adjectives, and pronouns showed gender inflection in agreement with the noun. Middle English then emerged and was used until the mid fifteen century. In early Middle English nouns, determiners, adjectives and pronouns agree in gender just as with Old English, although overtime the inflection of the nouns, the adjectives, and the articles gradually weakened and the nouns gradually moved towards the neuter gender. The gender system continued to change into modern English and was influenced by the Interpretation Act of 1850 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interpretation_Act_1850). So you are correct the influence of Parlimentary acts was not the driving force behind the changes, although I found it surprising that they were involved in the development of English at all.
  6. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    Yes, it's usually sound shifts that influence such change, not a deliberate movement.
  7. JaimeB Civis Illustris

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    The use of Latin in the Vatican is gradually being replaced by Italian. They used to try to coin new Latin words for things that didn't exist in the Classical Latin period (like motorcycles, in writing traffic and parking rules), but they've mostly gone over to putting such things out in Italian. I think their term for motorcycle was something like currus ignifer duabus rotis ("fire-bearing chariot with two wheels") or some such lunacy. Currus here is still masculine and rota is still feminine, as they always were in Classical Latin; i. e., the Vatican felt they could innovate vocabulary, but didn't dare mess with grammatical gender. The word rota has cognates in the modern Romance languages, and is feminine in every one of them: la rueda, la ruota, a roda, la roue (Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and French, respectively). We have borrowed this as a root in English for the adjective "rotary," the verb "rotate," and the noun "rotation."

    I also looked at your citation on the Interpretation Act of 1850, and the only bearing it seems to have on this issue is that it allows the masculine form "he" in statutes to be interpreted as applying to both sexes (not genders in the grammatical sense, which had already disappeared as a noun-class system without benefit of acts of Parliament long before 1850!). This is a proper case of the use of an epicine pronoun, by the way.
  8. NewLinguist New Member

    Thanks for confirming that Bitmap.

    Fire-bearing chariot with two wheels, lol. To me it seems a waste not to follow all of the other countries with gender reform and avoid a lot of the confusion that is created by giving all objects sexual genders by default.

    On this point I still haven't worked out how to make masculine or neuter nouns referring to an area of study in Latin, which unless I am mistaken would render the bodies of knowledge associated with all of these areas feminine.

    Perhaps in English linguists arrived at the construction of -logy by removing the typically feminine morpheme -a to get -logi and then changed the -i morpheme into the phonetically compatible -y morpheme to get -logy?
  9. Iohannes Aurum Technicus Auxiliarius

    • Technicus Auxiliarius
    Autobirota sounds much better, though it is Neo-Latin, as compared with the ridiculous "fire-bearing chariot with two wheels."
  10. JaimeB Civis Illustris

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    NewLinguist:

    "English linguists" didn't arrive at any "decision" about -logy. Words using this suffix would have been imported into English from French at some point during the Middle English period (roughly from the Norman Conquest until the end of the fourteenth century), and by that time, the loss of grammatical gender in English would have been under way and possibly nearly complete. The decay of the gender system in English began in the north of England and gradually moved south, starting in the tenth century (at the end of the Old English or Anglo-Saxon period) and was complete by the fourteenth century. The process was gradual, and involved first confusion about the grammatical gender of words, then a regrouping of the genders, and finally, their complete leveling. If you want to read a quick-and-dirty summary of gender-leveling in English, look here: http://purgge.wordpress.com/2010/07/01/loss-of-gender-in-english/.

    To know exactly when words using the -logy suffix began to appear, consult the OED [Oxford English Dictionary], which lists the date of first textual occurrence for each entry. In some parts of England where the gender system might still have been active at whatever time the words with this suffix were first borrowed from French, these words might have been borrowed in their original feminine gender (in which French also had them from Latin), or they might already have been perceived as masculine (after the inanimate feminines had migrated to the masculine gender in Middle English), or they might have been borrowed at a time and place where genders had already been leveled. Any one of these scenarios is possible.

    There is no program of "gender reform" in any language. In some languages, gender systems undergo change and sometimes gradually decay. In many languages, gender systems persist without change through the life of the language and never decay, as they persisted in Ancient Greek and in Latin. Romance languages show no signs of gender revision. Russian and German still have three genders (masculine, feminine, and neuter). Arabic, Coptic, Amharic, and Hebrew still have two-gender systems, and these are not even Indo-European languages.
  11. NewLinguist New Member

    Jaime,

    I find it difficult to accept that the English implementation of the ultimately Latin/Greek suffix, used primarily to demarcate areas of university specialisations was driven by the largely non university educated popluace. It seems to me more likely that it was considered by the language scholars of the time in the university environment. I did some checking and could not find a single -logy word in old english, meaning that they are most likely to have emerged once the tri gendered system had largely disappeared. If correct, this would make all -logy words in English initially of the neuter gender. The morphology involved is intriging as the removal of the -a morpheme means that the suffix is then -logi in Latin which no longer represents a feminine suffix unless there is an i terminating feminine suffix that I missed.
  12. Nikolaos schmikolaos

    • Censor
    Didn't the educated in the eras of Old and Middle English prefer the languages of French and Latin? The way I was made to understand it was that English was merely the vernacular of the uneducated, and that it would make perfect sense for all facets of the language to be driven by the "largely non university educated populace".
  13. JaimeB Civis Illustris

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    It's not so easy as all that. You are misinterpreting my last post. I already pointed out to you that -logy words would not have been introduced before the Middle English period; you will see that if you read my last post attentively. Also, university specialization in the period we are discussing would include a very good knowledge of Latin, since that was the universal language of international scholarship in Europe into the eighteenth century. People intimately familiar with Latin would not mess with the grammatical genders of words; that would be ungrammatical, by definition, and no self-respecting academic would risk ridicule by using ungrammatical Latin. Anyway, grammatical gender (as I have pointed out repeatedly) is beyond legislation, either political or academic. It obeys only internal laws of linguistics, which no human being can control. Languages follow their own laws and logic. Period.

    A second point: You keep referring to post-gender English words as neuter. That is inappropriate, because neuter is a gender, and when English lost grammatical gender, there were no more neuters (or masculines, or feminines, for that matter). All three genders were leveled, i. e., gone, wiped out, by then. Got it? No neuters, no masculines, no feminines after gender leveling in English.
  14. NewLinguist New Member

    Jaime, gender is alive in modern English, man and woman are masculine and feminine respectively with pronoun inflection, citizen is a common gender noun although uninflected, mailman is an epicine noun, and inanimate objects are now by default in the neuter gender although they can have a sexual gender overlayed by using an adjective where appropriate. Application of sexual genders directly onto inanimate objects disappeared. In my last post I referred to -logy words as being in the neuter gender, this is likely incorrect as they are more likely to be interpreted as uninflected common gendered nouns.
  15. Iohannes Aurum Technicus Auxiliarius

    • Technicus Auxiliarius
    Let me remind you of the use of the feminine gender for named countries, ships, and vehicles in English.
  16. NewLinguist New Member

    You make a good point Iohannes Aurum, although I think the protocol you mention originated from the Latin/Greek languages where terra and navis were feminine and I am not sure, due to the gender reform in relation to inanimate objects, if it is still applicable to modern English. For example when I refer to a car I always use the pronoun it, rather than she, and in relation to ships the default in modern English seems to be neuter unless it has been given a male or female name, so a ship would be referred to by using the pronoun it until it has been given a name, and if it was named Mr Misterious then it would attract the he/him pronouns rather than she/her. Countries are likely to be the same, and as a result the default is probably neuter rather than she, except in those cases where countries have given themselves a sexual gender.
  17. Nikolaos schmikolaos

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    If it were a sexual gender, I don't see how words like feles, is could be strictly feminine, even for male specimens.
  18. JaimeB Civis Illustris

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    Grammatical gender has disappeared from English. Practical gender persists, for living male or female beings only. "Common gender" is not applicable to English: English nouns have no grammatical gender.

    Nouns are inflected for number and possessive forms in English. House has the plural form houses, the possessive form house's, and the plural possessive form houses'. Nouns do not have strictly grammatical (i. e., arbitrary) gender in English. Adjectives are indeclinable in English, i. e., they have no plural forms, except for {this, these} and {that, those}. Some nouns can follow their French forms for gender when referring to persons, i. e. {blond, blonde}, {fiancé, fiancée}: He's a blond./She's a blonde. George is Mary's fiancé./Mary is George's fiancée. The words fiance and fiancee can be written with or without the accent mark; nowadays, it is generally omitted.

    "Mailman" refers only to males; "mail carrier" can refer to a postal worker of either sex. Gender-neutral occupational terms are used to show that there is no "gender bias" in hiring practices.
  19. NewLinguist New Member

    Jaime, most of the nouns referring to professions are inclusive of both sexes and are thus further examples of the use of the common gender in modern English, and I can assure you that firemen, airmen, mailmen, sportsmen, and seamen can be used to refer to both sexes. Furthermore the default pronoun for inanimate objects is "it" meaning that they are in the neuter gender by default.

    Nikolaos, cattus is masculine "cat, wildcat" and feles "cat. tomcat, polecat, wildcat" is feminine. The Latin definitions that I read didn't make it clear if they were epicene or not. So in Latin it is either cattus to refer to males and feles to refer to females (sexual gendered nouns), or cattus mas/femina, and feles mas/femina (epicenes).

    In the field of biological taxonomy they used the root of the feminine form feles to name a suborder and family of the carnivores (epicene use): Feliformia (suborder) and Felidae (family), and the felids include lions, tigers, leopards and even domesticated cats.
  20. Bitmap Civis Illustris

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    it seems to me that cattus is pretty late, very rare and that it explicitely refers to tomcats.

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