SV: RERE: Paired Horse and bladibla

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal mcv at WXS.NL
Tue Nov 10 23:25:33 UTC 1998

Lars Martin Fosse <lmfosse at ONLINE.NO> wrote:

>Sandra van der Geer wrote:
>Hoho, as a speaker of Dutch I lived under the impression that we also had feminine? Not visible in the determiner, but for example, in the relative possessive pronoun,
>de man wiens auto gestolen was (litt: the man whose car stolen was)
>de vrouw wier auto gestolen was (litt: the woman whose car stolen was)
>Especially in the older language this is clearly visible, and still so in a number of fixed expressions where the old case-system has been preserved.
>But of course there is a clear trend to simplifiy things (back?) into a gender/neuter system.
>Dear Sandra, what can I say? It is several years since I read Dutch, and I never really had time to make an indepth study - I only got as far as to be able to read De Telegraph. What I really had in mind was the gender of the nouns, I can't remember that you have anything like the German system with "der Mann - die Frau - das Auto".

That is true.  We have only "de" (animate) and "het" (inanimate)
words, even if the dictionaries still mark "de"-words as m. or f.

But the problem is that the personal pronouns still make a three-way
distinction (hij/zijn zij/haar het/zijn ~ he/his she/her it/its), so
when a pronoun has to refer back to a "de"-word, and sexual gender
does not apply, people are often at a loss which pronoun to use.  In
general, little attention is paid to what the dictionaries say, and
"hij/zijn" is commonly used, excepty for abstract words, which tend
to be referred to as "zij/haar".  It's not uncommon for city dwellers
to use the pronoun "hij" when referring to a cow.

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal
mcv at

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