gender voice variants

Milos Rancic millosh at
Wed Dec 19 21:59:29 CET 2012

On Wed, Dec 19, 2012 at 9:05 PM, Broome, Karen <Karen.Broome at> wrote:
> OK. Got it.
> For my use, the tags are still missing two things:
>         Gender: Male/Female/Neuter
>         Mode: Spoken/Written/Signed
> For more data-centric applications and audio content versioning, these things seem very necessary. I have made a fairly consistent plea for mode and gender is just as important.

Just one note here: There is no need for "neuter" tag; at least if we
are talking about the most widespread languages. Nobody talks in
neuter form.

However, gender [1] is a quite complex category, if we are talking
about all languages. That means that it's possible to have different
gender inflection based on categories other than [approximation of]
natural sex. For example, different inflection or syntax depending on
social class.

Please, take a look at the list [2]; especially the list of
[non-Indo-European] languages with more than three genders.

For example, Bantu languages [3] have different kind of noun
classification. While it seems to me that Swahili could be treated
normally [4], it seems that Luganda [5] could benefit from the
subtags. It seems that the gender agreement in Luganda depends on the
suffix of the noun. That could theoretically mean that the name Mark
would require different verb agreement than the name David, based on
the suffixes of the words. And it could be reflected on audio UI who
is "talking" with Mark or David. In the other words, this category
should stay open.

I want to note, again, one distinction in relation to the
gender-specific subtags: Different language variety depends
exclusively on those who speak the language. And those who speak the
language could be marked by different genders. However, the
grammatical category of gender is wider than that, as it includes
natural phenomena not able to produce language. Phenomena which are
marked by neuter gender [in the most of Indo-European languages]
belong to that category. Thus, language subtags in that case don't
have a lot of sense -- as subtags are about language varieties, not
about grammatical categories.


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