[b-greek] Gender...What!?

From: Wayne Leman (wleman@mcn.net)
Date: Tue Mar 27 2001 - 18:50:31 EST

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jonathan Robie" <Jonathan.Robie@SoftwareAG-USA.com>
> Even biologically feminine entities may become neuter in the face of
> grammatical laws.

True, Jonathan. And, actually, there often is a culturally logical rationale
in such cases, which are fairly common in other gender languages, as well.
From the viewpoint of the culture, a child below a certain age is considered
genderless. I believe this is true in English, where a baby is called an
"it" for some purposes, e.g.

"Mary had her baby yesterday. It's a girl."

In this case, it's not simply grammatical assignment of gender, but, rather
cultural assignment of gender which is reflected in grammatical assignment.
For other languages, the age at which gender is culturally (and
grammatically) relevant when speaking of a child may be older than a baby.

> For instance, a child, PAIS, may be either masculine or
> feminine, depending on the child in question, but if you add a diminutive
> ending to the child, making it a little PAIDION, then the gender becomes
> neutral - but have no fear, this is purely grammatical, and no children
> were harmed in making this grammatical form.

We shouldn't have to argue about gender-neutral English translations in such
cases!! :-)

> Are there any good examples of a feminine noun for something that is
> biologically masculine, or vice versa?

Well, just take a look at 1 Tim. 3:1, where EPISKOPHS is feminine (exactly
morphologically parallel to masculine EPISKOPOS, except for the gender
suffix). But surely we all know that an EPISKOPHS could only be biologically
masculine! <BG> (Spoken with tongue very firmly in cheek, but still ducking
as the rocks, tomatoes, and rotten potatoes fly from all theological

Wayne Leman
Bible translation site: http://www.geocities.com/bible_translation/

B-Greek home page: http://metalab.unc.edu/bgreek
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