SV: RERE: Paired Horse and bladibla

Erik Seldeslachts erik.seldeslachts at RUG.AC.BE
Thu Nov 12 08:40:03 UTC 1998

Miguel Carrasquer Vidal wrote:

> 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.

Most Flemish speakers of Dutch know perfectly well the distinction
between feminine and masculine words and are seldom at a loss which
pronoun to use. Sometimes this a reason for them to ridiculise the
speach of the "Hollanders", who mostly no longer make this distinction.

Erik Seldeslachts
University of Ghent
Ghent,  Belgium

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