One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The gender of those nouns in English that are not limited to either sex, such as cousin or spouse.
- ‘Historically, if a language possesses a gender system and distinguishes between "he" and "she," then one or the other will also tend to be the common gender for when both genders are involved.’
- ‘Now, many occupations are treated as having common gender, representing both males and females.’
- ‘This fourth approach appears to be the one most likely to succeed, both because it sticks with nouns and pronouns of common gender, so-called because they are gender-inclusive rather than gender-distinctive, and also because Common and Vulgar English have long used the plural pronouns in these positions.’
2In some languages, such as Latin, the gender of those nouns that may be either masculine or feminine but not neuter.
3In some languages, such as modern Danish, the gender of those nouns derived from the earlier masculine and feminine genders that do not belong to the neuter gender.
- ‘The Romance languages have lost the Classical Latin neuter gender, while Dutch, Danish and Swedish have merged masculine and feminine to form the common gender.’
- ‘Masculine and feminine gender have all been combined together to form the common gender.’
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