“Every noun in Arabic is either masculine or feminine”
Thread poster: Khalid Nasir

Khalid Nasir
Local time: 04:51
English to Arabic
+ ...
Nov 26, 2007

The first paragraph is quoted from:

“Gender is the system by which a language expresses the natural or grammatical sex of objects. Natural sex means the natural classification of animate objects into males and females. Grammatical sex means the lexical classification of words into feminine and masculine regardless of their natural sex, such as the Arabic words kitab (book, masculine)/kurrasah (notebook, feminine). Arabic gender has two features: feminine and masculine. Basically, “gender in Arabic is grammatical, not natural”. Therefore all Arabic nouns (whether singular, dual or plural; human or non-human; animate or inanimate) are classified according to gender into feminine and masculine.”

Also we have in Arabic “Gender Verbal Agreement & Gender Noun Agreement” In the verbal agreement, we should put a gender marker at the verb beginning to distinguish the verb subject gender and in gender noun agreement we should attach a feminine morpheme to the end of the word for feminine gender.

Our topic, in particular, is about Grammatical Sex Gender which is one of Arabic language features.

As we remove every gender marker or feminine morpheme when we translate an Arabic text with grammatical sex gender into English, so it is very obvious that grammatical sex gender has nothing to do with meaning. It is useless stuffing!

Does this useless stuffing make a problem?

Yes it is. For Arabic second language learners with non grammatical sex gender in their mother tongue, this useless stuffing adds more difficulty to their attempt to learn Arabic.

For Arabic native speakers, they should practice this useless staffing whenever they encounter an inanimate object. They should recall into their brain whether it is masculine or feminine to apply the useless stuffing rules of grammatical sex gender. But this is not a very real problem since they are much trained to deal with this useless grammatical sex gender. Indeed much trained and here is the real problem. They can not get red of it when speaking or learning a language without grammatical sex gender, English for example.

Does this affect the learning attempt as I suggested?

Are there any language learning methods or approaches dealing with this particular subject? I am very interested to know.


Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 19:51
English to Spanish
+ ...
Could you clarify? Nov 26, 2007

You mention here:

"They cannot get rid of it (the gender or useless stuffing) when speaking or learning a language without grammatical sex gender, English for example".

The gender concept exists in many languages, including Spanish, which also distinguishes number. Number affects both verbs and adjectives, but gender affects only adjectives, not verbs. But rather than being "useless stuffing", it does serve to clarify and make distinctions. Among other things, this makes Spanish a more precise language than English.

My question would be, what happens when they cannot get rid of the gender or useless stuffing?

In my experience it does not appear that Spanish-speakers have any such problem when learning English.

I am totally unversed in linguistics or even grammar for that matter, but the subject you bring up is interesting.


Khalid Nasir
Local time: 04:51
English to Arabic
+ ...
Ambiguity too Nov 26, 2007

Hi Henry

I meant the Grammatical Sex Gender (useless stuffing) both “Gender Verbal Agreement & Gender Noun Agreement”. Is Grammatical Sex Gender important to the meaning of a sentence!

Sentence A (the car stopped) has an inanimate subject (car) which does the action of stopping. (Car is classified in Arabic as feminine)

Sentence B (the train stopped) has an inanimate subject (train) which does the action of stopping. (Train is classified in Arabic as masculine)

Arabic wording composition for sentence A:
The car (stopped+ a feminine morpheme)

Arabic wording composition for sentence B:
The train (stopped+ without a feminine morpheme)

Both sentences contain the action of stopping of inanimate object, same action and this action has to be associated with one mental representation.

In other examples we not only insert this useless staffing in wording composition but we invite ambiguity to be present in our expression.

Sentence C .She drove the car. I like it.
Sentence D .She drove the car. I like her.

Arabic wording composition for sentence C:
She (drove + a feminine morpheme) the car. I (gender marker +like) HER.

Arabic wording composition for sentence D:
She (drove + a feminine morpheme) the car. I (gender marker +like) HER.
HER for both, the care and SHE) and unless you added another word to describe who or what you do like, your sentence would be ambiguous.

Is there any way to develop our sense (Arabic Speakers) of neutral sex for inanimate objects? If we had such approach, we would make a significant contribution to learning English to Arabic speakers.

Thanks a lot.


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