The grammatical gender is present in almost a fourth of the languages in the world and it is considered to be a system which goes far towards the classification of nouns. The most common divisions of gender include the following: masculine, feminine, neuter, animate and inanimate. The gender allocation is determined by the meaning of the words, but in many languages the semantics of a word or phrase is in some degree not entirely correct. For example the word ‘manliness’ could be considered feminine, but, regarding the fact that it refers to a man, it can also be a masculine word. That is why the morphology and phonology of a word play such an important role in the assignation of a word to the correct gender. This is the case of both English and Romanian, the only difference being that in Romanian there are only three gender markers: masculine, feminine and neuter.
The grammatical gender can also be recognized from the words surrounding the noun such as adjectives, pronouns or determiners. These words do not take the place of the noun, they go far towards the meaning of it and enhance the message that is intended or expressed.
However, in modern English, some nouns denote no gender distinction, such as chair, child, glass, table, car, pen, roof, and flower. These nouns are classified accordingly and, usually, are represented by objects or things.
e.g. The chair is under the table.
The child is old enough to go to kindergarden.
This does not occur in Romanian. Any noun which is not classified as masculine or feminine is considered to be neuter. The way a noun's gender can be recognized is either by replacing the noun with one of the pronouns he/she/it, or by deciding whether that noun refers to a masculine, feminine, or neuter object. If a noun can be replaced with he or she, that noun corresponds to the gender indicated by that pronoun. For instance, the noun boy can be replaced with the pronoun he, which indicates the masculine gender, therefore boy is a masculine noun. The noun girl, which clearly indicates the affiliation towards the feminine gender, can be replaced with the pronoun she. Other nouns, like table or window refer to objects and can be replaced only by the pronoun it.
e.g. Yesterday my daughter met a boy at school.
When referring to jobs, public services, hobbies or interests, there are many gender sensitive nouns in English: for example, a man is called an author, while a woman is called an authoress; the noun actor has as feminine form the word actress, or waiter and waitress. By adding the suffix -ess to the masculine form of the noun, the feminine form can be derived. This action is similar in Romanian: for example, a woman is called scriitoare/writer, and a man is called scriitor/writer; a man is called actor/actor and the woman actrita/actress. Romanian language has no exact rule when turning from masculine to feminine. Some words that are masculine and end in ‘-r’ form the feminine by adding ‘-e’ and others, that also end in ‘-r’, change the entire structure of the word to turn into feminine.
The use of gender specific nouns has become very rare nowadays and only nouns that refer to occupational categories are occasionally used with gender markers.
Each category of gender has some specific features. For the masculine nouns, we have the pronouns he /they. They replace nouns such as: men, boys and male animals (Thomson & Martinet 24). Similarly, she/they can replace nouns which stand for female representatives. Inanimate things, animals or babies, whose sex is not known, are replaced by the pronoun it/they and are considered neuter. All nouns whose sex is uncertain are neuter, except for collective nouns. However, grammatical gender is not the same with the natural sex of someone or something (Crystal 106), that is, "boys" are not necessarily masculine and "girls" are not feminine.
2.1 Forms and Definitions; Gender Markers
The noun in English is classified into the category of gender according to the following four categories: masculine, feminine, neuter and common/dual.
The gender of a noun is determined by its meaning, and only in some cases, by its form. Accordingly, nouns are classified into:
Nouns which form their feminine form by adding a suffix to the masculine form of a noun. For example actor-masculine; actress-feminine. In forming this feminine noun, the suffix -ess is at added the end of the masculine form of the noun. Other examples: heir/heiress; waiter/waitress; host/hostess. The Romanian language calls this process "moțiune". The nouns which result from this method are entitled mobile nouns.
Nouns which form their masculine or feminine form by joining two words together: by annexing the word sales to the word man/woman it becomes either a masculine noun, or a feminine noun: salesman and saleswoman
Nouns that are the opposite form of each other: Boy/Girl; Man/Woman; Father/Mother; Husband/Wife; Gentleman/Lady; Son/Daughter; Brother/Sister; Sir/Madam; Uncle/Aunty; Nephew/Niece; Lord/Lady; King/Queen; Earl/Countess; Bachelor/Maid/Spinster; Monk/Nun; Wizard/Witch; Master/Mistress; Drake/Duck; Drone/Bee; Gander/Goose; Lion/Lioness; Bull/Cow; Rooster/Hen;. In Romanian these nouns are called "heteronimice", nouns with different forms for each of the beings of the opposite sex.
However, the Romanian language distinguishes only three types of noun gender: masculine (perete/wall; băiat/boy; copil/child), feminine (minge/ball, perdea/curtain; fată/girl), and neuter, which includes the English category of gender "common/dual" (război/war; codru/woods; pahar/glass). The division between masculine and feminine is different than the one used in English. By replacing the noun with one of the pronouns he/she/it one can decide whether that word belongs to the masculine, feminine or neuter gender. However, in Romanian, even things or objects can be masculine or feminine; they do not necessarily have to be neuter. For example, the Romanian perete/wall is considered to be masculine and the word masă/table is feminine. This assessment is not possible in English. Only if it refers to a metaphorical term it is possible for the speaker to refer to the wall as him and to the table as she.
In Romanian, gender distinction markers are: the masculine and the neuter singular form ending in consonant, -u, -e, -ă, whereas the feminine singular nouns generally end in -ă, -e or -ţiune (-ţie) , -siune/-ziune, -are/-ere/-ire. Here are some more examples of Romanian nouns divided according to their gender:
iubit - boyfriend
copil - child
om - human
profesor - teacher
tată - father
litru - liter
unchiu - uncle
Iubită - girlfriend
copilă - child
floare - flower
televiziune - television
negoţ - bargain
steag - flag
cânt - song
caiet - notebook
sens - meaning
nume - name
Masculine gender refers to male nouns, personal or non-personal, for example: man, boy, father, brother. The masculine form of a noun is considered to be the pure form of a word.
A noun is said to be in the masculine gender if it refers to a male character or member of a species: Man, lion, hero, boy, king, horse and actor etc.
e.g. A boy is playing in the play-ground.
The hero of the movie is not a native of this country.
There is no use of grammatical gender in English, but there are "ways of distinguishing animate beings from inanimate entities" (Crystal 106). He divides the gender into: Inanimate (which refer to words which can be replaced with the pronoun it) and animate nouns (which make use of the pronouns he and she). Animate nouns are divided into personal animate (referring to male and female patterns boy-girl, man-woman) and nonpersonal animate nouns (which relate to animals dog, cat, mouse, horse).
A noun is said to belong to the feminine gender if it refers to a female member of a species, such as: woman, lioness, heroine, girl, mare, niece, empress, cow, actress, etc. The feminine gender is formed by adding the suffix –ess to the masculine form of the noun, as in the following examples: e.g. The lion and the lioness were lying in the sun.
The count with his countess announced their son’s wedding.
A different way of forming feminine nouns is by adding either a suffix or a prefix to a compound noun:
e.g. The man-servant brought the food, while the maid-servant was serving us with tea.
My grandmother bought a he-goat and a she-goat.
The bull-calf is no match for a furious cow-calf.
Feminine nouns can also be formed by adding other sufixes such as:
-a: don/donna; czar/czarina.
e.g. Donna Maria arrived today from Milano for tonight's fashion show.
The Czarina was considered to be the most beautiful woman in the whole country.
-e/-enne: fiancé/fiancée; protégé/protégée; confidant/confidante; comedian/comedienne;
e.g. His fiancée left him standing at the altar because she did not love him anymore.
Her job as a comedienne is not as rewarding as she would have wanted it to be.
-ine: hero/heroine; landgrave/landgravine; Joseph/Josephine;
e.g. Josephine is my mother's middle name.
A noun is said to be in the neuter gender if it refers to a member of a species which is neither male nor female. Typically nouns, referring to lifeless objects are in neuter nouns: chair, table, tree, star, mountain, street, book, car, school, paper, pencil, computer, etc.
e.g. Computer has brought about drastic changes in our lives.
Trees are cleansing the air.
In English, there is one controversial category, namely the common gender. Some grammarians do not attest its existence; others ignore it and/or include it in the neuter category. In Romanian, the common gender is included in the neuter category. It does not exist on its own.
The neuter gender takes into account all nouns which can be replaced by the pronoun it, which name things such as furniture, black-board or room;
e.g. The new furniture you bought is too shinny for my taste.
The students have to clean the black-board during break time.
Generally, neuter nouns are nouns which are neither masculine, nor feminine. Worth mentioning here is the fact that nouns like baby and child are also considered neuter, but only when the speaker does not know the baby’s sex or if he/she is not attached to the baby.
e.g. My sister is having a baby next month. It will be baptized within three months.
The dog’s bark scared the poor child; it was afterwards taken to the hospital.
A noun is considered to have the common gender in one of the following cases:
The nouns which refer either to masculine or feminine, depending the word’s meaning in the sentence/context. For example, the word teacher, taken out of the context, is neuter because there is no reference towards the gender. However in the examples below the noun teacher is a female teacher that is why the noun belongs to the feminine gender. This context-specific distinction is not to be found in Romanian. In the case of teacher the translation is profesor/profesoară. It depends on the speaker/writer how he uses it. Recently, it has been considered that nouns, such as profesor, doctor or director should only be used with their masculine form, no matter if the referent is a woman or a man.
e.g. My son’s teacher was sick the other day, she asked us to keep all children at home.
Doctorul mi-a dat niște medicamente pentru spate. /The doctor gave me some medicine for my back pain.
Profesorul nostru este tot timpul punctual la ora. /Our professor is always on time for class.
Directorul școlii este cel care se ocupă de toate. /The school director is the one managing everything.
Collective nouns are considered to be in the common category of gender. Nouns that refer to both men and women simultaneously, but which have a singular form referring to more than one person, like people or crew, are considered to be common. They do not refer to a specific gender category, which is why they cannot be gender specific.
Child, student, friend, applicant, candidate, servant, member, parliamentarian and leader are few of the common-gender nouns.
e.g. A child is playing in the play-ground.
A Parliamentarian should have a good command of his native tongue.
A student must learn a lot to pass his exams.
2.2. Some Grammatical Aspects Concerning Gender in English
Nouns expressing emotions can be classified into either masculine or feminine. There are some aspects which are taken into account to distinguish these two categories: for example, the noun anger is considered to be a masculine noun because it refers to a negative emotion, while calm is regarded as a feminine noun due to the fact that it states a positive state.
2.2.1. Masculine Gender and Negative Features
The masculine gender is usually ascribed to nouns denoting strength, harshness, cruelty, most of them negative features: anger, fury, terror, crime, fear.
Regarding that it is more likely for a man to have these emotions than a woman, the negative nouns have been classified as masculine nouns. Ever since the Vikings, men were considered to be angry, fearless and terrifying due to the important role they played in a family. This is why, through history, men have always been associated with negative emotions
e.g. Being angry does not help you solve your problems.
It may be possible that this fury you are experiencing can be the cause of this confusion.
Women can also experience these emotions, but as the "weak link" of the human race, women cannot experience these emotions forever, they cannot be characterized according to these flutters.
In Romanian if a noun ends in -giu, it is categorized as masculine
e.g. De când era copil şi-a dorit să devină macaragiu. /
Ever since he was a boy he wanted to become the man who handels the elevator.
In Romanian if a noun ends in -ă, -a, -ea, -i, -e, -ătate, -toare, that noun is feminine. Exception makes the words tată/father, Papă/Pope, Vodă, which are considered to be masculine nouns, despite their ending.
e.g. Tatăl fetei a murit acum zece ani. /The girl's father died ten years ago.
Mancarea a fost delicioasă, mamă! /The food was delicious mom!
If a noun representing a being ends in a consonant, -i, or -u, preceded by another consonant, that noun is masculine.
e.g. Un meci pierdut nu înseamnă nimic pentru ehipa campionilor. /A lost game does not mean anything to the champions.
Comportamentul lui arată că este un elev mediocru. /His behavior shows that he is a mediocre pupil.
If a noun ends in -e and it represents a being, that noun is masculine or feminine.
e.g. Un iepure tocmai ce a sarit din tufiş. /A rabbit just jumped out of that bush.
O potîrniche le-a dat bătăi de cap muncitorilor de pe şantier. /A partridge gave the workers a hard time.
2.2.2. Positive Features and Feminine Nouns
On the other hand, nouns denoting delicacy, feebleness, tenderness and other positive features, are feminine: friendship, spring, time, truth, soul.
If a noun ends in -e but makes reference to an object, then that noun is feminine: mere, agrafe, etc.
e.g. Ne ajung doua mere. /Two apples will do.
Încă trei agrafe şi părul miresei este gata aranjat. /Three more clips and the bride's hair is ready.
The distinction depends on the imagination and interpretation of the author.
e.g. Friendship between these two children has grown stronger over past the years.
2.2.3. Exceptions and Neuter Nouns
Exception makes the noun jealousy: even if it refers to insecurity, fear and anxiety (which are all qualities referring to the masculine gender), it is considered to be feminine, because women are more likely to acquire these feelings rather than men.
e.g. A sharp pang of jealousy went through her heart.
In Romanian a noun can be classified as neuter if it ends in -aj (except for paj), -ment or -mînt: decupaj/cutting, scurt-metraj/short film, ciment/cement, randament/efficiency, mormînt/tomb, îngrăşămînt/fertilizer.
e.g. Rochia aceea are un decupaj frumos la baza gulerului. /That dress has a beautiful cutting at the bottom of the collar.
Un scurt-metraj poate fi mai expresiv decât un film de două ore. /A short film can be more expressive than a two hour long movie.
CHAPTER 3. THA CATEGORY OF NUMBER
The category of number represents the grammatical distinction corresponding to the difference between the form of one or more than one nouns (unity and plurality). The term was coined during from the Old French nombre (noun), nombrer (verb), from Latin numerous.
When a noun denotes a single object, it is of the singular number: man, lamp, or window:
e.g. The man I saw was a dark haired man.
I requested a lamp for my office.
The window was open when I came in.
When a noun denotes more than one object, it is of the plural number: men, lamps, or windows:
e.g. More and more men go to work in this factory every day.
I received two lamps to decorate my room with.
In summer I use to sleep with all my windows open.
Number is the grammatical category denoting the reference which is made "to one or more representatives of a class of notions" (Chiriacescu 39) and the form of a noun which points out that a noun can express one or more things (Zdrenghea 24). The category of number refers not to the form of a noun, but to its morphological and grammatical meaning (Toșa 160).
In Romanian, the category of number stands for both singular and plural forms of a noun and expresses the singular and plural to all things. The term "thing" here, is not to be taken as it is; it refers to all existing data of the reality reflected in the semantic series of the noun. The morphological sense of number comes across other parts of speech, such as: pronouns, verbs, adjectives or articles.
3.1. Spelling Rules
When a noun refers to one person or one thing, that noun uses its singular form:
e.g. A man is walking by the park.
A group of geese is called gaggle.
Our live should be filled with joy.
Church is the worshipping-place of Christians.
In these sentences, the nouns man, group, joy, church and chair are in singular forms. Joy, wife, hero, baby, city, parrot, loaf or tooth are few singular-nouns which we use. The noun has various dimensions in its usages. A noun can have several meanings depending on the context.
Graphically, the formation of the plural in Romanian can be represented in the diagram below: Singular form ending:
Ending in Singular
When an -i is added
compus–compound/compuși - compounds
-t , -d
-ţ , -z
Ending in Singular
When -e is added
-o- , -e-
The Regular Plural of Nouns is formed from the Singular. In the oldest form of English, multiple plural endings were in use, only one remaining as active force in modern English: the ending s or es. When a new word arises, the form of its plural will follow this rule: pen/pens; cat/cats; book/books; garage/garages; dress/dresses; bush/bushes;
e.g. All my pens are gone.
My neighbor’s cats are all over my garden.
I’ve taken the books in the library.
In English there are several rules relating to the adding of –s or –es which must be observed.
3.1.1. Nouns ending in –y
Nouns which end in –y preceded by a vowel, simply add the ending –s to the singular form: day/days; holiday/holidays;
e.g. The days have come for us to realize that aliens are not our enemies.
We spent the last two holidays on an island in Greece.
If the noun ends in –y but is followed by a consonant, it is required to change the y into ie and then add the ending –s: pony/ponies; factory/factories;
e.g. The children were fascinated about the ponies.
All factories in that area were shut down last year.
There is a mention that must be made: -qu- is considered to be a consonantic group; nouns like colloquy and soliloquy form the plural colloquies and soliloquies.
e.g. The colloquies at the meeting were in favor of the crowd.
Our Romanian teacher used to keep soliloquies at all school meetings, so as to express his opinion towards administrative problems.
3.1.2. Nouns ending in –o
Nouns ending in –o receive the ending –s or –es to form the plural form. The suffix –s is added in the following cases:
When a noun whose final –o is preceded by a vowel: radio/radios; scenario/scenarios; studio/studios; portfolio/portfolios; cuckoo/cuckoos; kangaroo/kangaroos;
e.g. All radios in this shop are brand new.
The scenarios I read last week were brilliant.
There are four studios in town.
When a noun ending in –o is of foreign origin: tango/tangos; soprano/sopranos; dynamo/dynamos; canto/cantos; casino/casinos;
e.g. The tangos she danced with that professional dancer were, in her opinion, unique.
All sopranos were invited back-stage to perform the rehearsals.
More dynamos can generate more power if you know how to use them.
Abbreviations such as kilos ( from kilogram), photos (from photograph), or pianos (from pianoforte)
e.g. I bought three kilos of cherries.
The wedding photos came out great.
His grandfather owned two pianos.
Some names which end in –o add –s: Hindoo/Hindoos; Romeo/Romeos; Eskimo/Eskimos:
e.g. Hindoos have their own customs when it comes to weddings.
All guys turn into Romeos when they are in love with a girl.
Eskimos live in cold environments, and eat meals which are rich in fat.
The suffix –es is added when –o is preceded by a consonant: hero/heroes; echo/echoes; embargo/embargoes; mosquito/mosquitoes; domino/dominoes;
e.g. Echoes can be heard only in the mountains.
The embargoes were heavier than the last time.
There are nouns which end in –o and form the plural form by adding both –s and –es: buffalo – buffalos/buffaloes; calico – calicos/calicoes; cargo – cargos/cargoes; flamingo – flamingoes; magnifico – magnificoes; motto – mottoes; mulatto – mulattoes; negro – negroes; no – noes (i.e. persons voting No as opposed to Aye); potato – potatoes; tomato – tomatoes; tornado – tornadoes; volcano – volcanoes; bravo – bravos; cento – centos; octavo – octavos; quarto – quartos; solo – solos; tyro – tyros; virtuoso – virtuosos; rondo – rondos; stiletto – stilettos; nuncio – nuncios; oratorio – oratorios;
It is necessary to point out the fact that those nouns which take a plural form, due to their ending in -os, are in most cases foreign nouns, imperfectly naturalized. There are a few in the pronunciation of their plurals: solo, nuncio, mosquito, rondo, tyro, etc.
3.1.3. Nouns ending in –f or –fe
Most of the nouns ending in –f or –fe form the plural by adding –s : cliff/cliffs; roof/roofs; proof/proofs; gulf/gulfs;
e.g. It is hard to reach the cliffs of the mountains.
Last year all the roofs were blown away by the tornado.
Other nouns ending in –f or –fe drop this suffix and instead add the ending –ves: elf/elves; leaf/leaves; half/halves; knife/knives; life/lives; wife/wives; self/selves; sheaf/sheaves; thief/thieves;
e.g. Elves are imaginary creatures.
In autumn all leaves fall to the ground.
Nouns with the same ending can also form the plural by adding either –s or –ves:
beef – beefs (when it refers to kinds of beef)/beeves (when the meaning is carcasses of oxen);
dwarf – dwarfs/dwarves;
scarf – scarfs/scarves;
e.g. The beef I buy from my local store is different than the beefs
I get form the supermarket.
Dwarfs are said to be little friendly creatures.
The scarves I own are a too colorful for this special occasion.
3.1.4. Nouns ending in –th
Nouns which end in –th add –s to form their plural form: birth/births; death/deaths; length/lengths; mot/moths; month/months; mouth/mouths; path/paths;
e.g. All births are written down for evidence.
The deaths are announced to the morgue and they tell you what to do next.
When she was younger, she used to go to great lengths.
There are also nouns which add –es to the ending –th: broth/brothes; cloth/clothes;
e.g. The brothes at the restaurant did not satisfy his hunger.
3.1.5. Singularia tantum
Words like advice, homework, sugar, luck, knowledge, information, weather, milk, bread, butter, cotton, luggage, peace, etc. do not have plural forms because the article a/an cannot be put before them. This happens because some of them already have a collective meaning. In this case, the singular form of these nouns if formed by adding words like piece, item, loaf: a piece of advice/knowledge/luggage; an item of information; a loaf of bread:
e.g. The advice she gave me was very useful. / he nedded more than just a piece of advice.
When I got home, the bread was already dry. / I only asked for a loaf of bread.
3.1.6. Pluralia Tantum
There are a number of nouns which do not have a singular form because they express more than one thing. All those nouns can be grouped according to :
Clothing: trousers, shorts, pijamas, braces, jeans, pants, tights, etc.
e.g. His trousers were dirty because of the rain.
She bought herself some funny pyjamas.
Tools/ Instruments: scissors, binoculars, glasses, scales, etc.
e.g. I almost sat on my glasses the other night. That was how sleepy I was.
Scissors are not toys for little children. They can easily get hurt while running with them.
Sciences: phonetics, mathematics, linguistics, informatics, gymnastics, diplomatics, therapeutics, dynamics, economics, politics, statistics, etc.
e.g. My weak point is mathematics; I cannot understand that science.
Phonetics was the first exam I failed to pass in my first year of study.
Nouns ending in -ing: savings, doings, surroundings, winnings, etc.
Habits: manners, customs, remains, sands, spirits, auspices, etc.
e.g. Customs are that the groom has to kiss the bride after the ceremony.
His remains will be burnt and the ashes will be thrown into the sea as he wished.
3.1.8. Foreign Nouns
English language contains a number of words taken from other languages. Because some of them were used less than others, their form has remained unchanged. Some plural nouns receive one suffix; others receive the ending from the mother-language. Some of those nouns are represented in the diagram below: