gender voice variants

Patrick patrick at
Fri Dec 21 19:52:16 CET 2012

Le 2012-12-21 06:00, ietf-languages-request at a écrit :
> From: "Martin J. D?rst" <duerst at>
> There is an interesting phenomenon in Swiss German that (small) girls
> are often neutral rather than female. This comes from the fact that the
> word girl in German (M?dchen) is neutral because it's a diminutive
> (which are all neutral in German).

Getting a bit off topic...

As far as I remember, there is something similar in ancient Greek for 
small children:  ?? ??????, -?? (to teknon, -ou)  : a child of either 
sex, as in German das Kind. The way it was explained to me: children are 
considered asexual, too small to be really associated to either sex.

According to Suetonius, Caesar would have said to Brutus : "K?? ?? 
??????;" (You too, child-neutral.)

Now, in ancient Greek diminutive can have all three genders ( ????-??? 
small child of any sex, ????-????? small boy, ????-???? young girl), 
whereas in German -chen/-lein calls for neuter. The same is true in 
Dutch, diminutives are neuter:  het kind (the child), het katje (the 
small cat, neuter),  het mannetje (the small man, neuter),  Anneke 
(small Anne/Annie, neuter).

P. A.

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