In English language, number and gender are the major elements of secondary category. They have some individual character traits and features of their own, which make them different than the number and gender systems of other languages. Therefore automatically there comes the issue of compare and contrast them with other languages. In this assignment paper, I will present a detail compare and contrast study of gender and number systems of English and Bangla. In addition, for the better understanding, I would like to present the features of each system first.
English gender system:
Gender is important as a grammatical category. There is a claim that English doesn’t have any proper gender system. That’s why; gender and sex are often associated together.
English has its biological gender, not grammatical gender, because it depends on the division of sexes. In other languages, there is grammatical gender, that is, they have grammatical feature, refers to, all types of words unlike English, that refers to nouns or inanimate objects.
David Crystal (1995) said,
Gender is a grammatical category used for the analysis of word classes’ displays, such contrasts as masculine or feminine or neuter or animated or inanimate etc.
Furthermore he added,
In linguistics the discussion of this concept focuses upon the need to distinguish natural and grammatical gender.
Grammatical gender has nothing to do with biological gender, but it has an important role in signaling grammatical relationships between words in a sentence.
For example, we can present French gender system. In French language, adjective agrees with the noun. But in English, we don’t find this feature. Example:
Bon homme – good man
Bonne femme - good woman
Even we find article-adjective-noun agreement in French language.
Un beau garcon – a beautiful boy
Une belle fille - a beautiful girl
Characteristics of English gender system:
In English there are three common ways to change the gender. They are:
Adding affix that indicates the sex
Using a complete new word
Adding word that indicates the sex-female/male.
In English there are three genders: masculine, feminine, neuter. There is another gender also namely, common gender. So we can say that there are four genders in English. But in Hindi, French, Italian and Spanish there are two genders. Russian and German have three genders. In Swahili there are six genders. Moreover, Chinese and Japanese, there is no gender system at all.
In European and English languages gender doesn’t change the verb. In Russian, there is a distinct past tense for masculine and feminine. Example:
– he wrote
Ona pisala - she wrote
In Hindi also gender changes the verb.
Larki chal rahi hain – the girl is walking
Larka chal raha hain – the boy is walking
In English, we see he/she. They are absolutely biological gender. There is no grammatical feature. So we can say that, English doest have any grammatical gender, because nouns can’t be classified in terms of adjective or verb like some other languages.
The pair system: uncle-aunt, mother-father, brother-sister etc are dependent on sex system. This is a lexical feature. There is no grammatical feature. So, we should say male or female instead of masculine or feminine. Even the Oxford dictionary also defines gender being male and female.
In English there are some feminine that don’t have any masculine form, Example:
Amazon, Blonde, Flirt, Housewife etc.
Again there are some masculine that don’t have any feminine form. Example:
Captain, Judge, Knight, Person etc.
There are some masculine genders that used as common gender. Example:
Man, Hound, Doctor etc.
Again there are some feminine gender used as common gender,
Bee, Cow, Duck etc.
Some counter arguments:
There is an argument that sometimes we find some...
References: Palmer, Frank, 1985, Grammar, Hazel Watson & Viney Limited, Great Britain.
Rahman, Jharna, 2003, Adhunik Bangla Bakoron o Rachana, Nabajug publication’s, Dhaka.
Sarkar, P.K. 2000, A Text Book of Higher English Grammar, Book Syndicate private Ltd, Anglo-Indian edition, Calcutta.
Varshney,R.L, 1985,Linguistics and Phonetics, BOC Ltd. Dhaka, Indian edition.
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