Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Nov 6 13:10:58 UTC 2011

On Nov 6, 2011, at 1:14 AM, Wilson Gray wrote:

> On Sat, Nov 5, 2011 at 12:25 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
>> the reversed gender attributions in Old English
> ,,, are sheerest coincidence. And I manipulated the data somewhat.;-)
> The fact that the moon was Masculine is out of step both with the
> Classical languages and with the Romance languages. Furthermore, the
> sun was Masculine _sunna_, Feminine _sunne_, and Neuter _sol_ in Old
> English, though the Feminine was preferred. Masculine "moon" and
> Feminine "sun" seems to be true, historically, at least, in all
> Germanic and Baltic languages, whereas in the Slavic languages, _luna_
> "moon" is Feminine, as in Greek, Latin, and Romance. However, _the
> word for "sun" in Slavic , - e.g. Russian _solntse_ is Neuter. OTOH,
> in Hebrew, both words are Masculine. And, very likely, there's a
> language with grammatical gender in which both are Feminine and
> another in which both are Neuter.
I remembering a talk by Roman Jakobson at the LSA Linguistic Institute in the summer of 1966 (UCLA) in which he tried to argue (I forget with how much success, although I wasn't in a good position to judge) that the gender of "sun" and "moon" in Romance vs. Slavic influenced depictions of the heavenly bodies in both poetry and the (well, he probably didn't use the term, but) collective unconscious of the peoples involved.


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