Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Jacob Wackernagel, Lectures on SyntaxWith Special Reference to Greek, Latin, and Germanic$

David Langslow

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780198153023

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198153023.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy). Subscriber: null; date: 23 October 2018

Lecture II, 1

Lecture II, 1

(p.399) Lecture II, 1
Jacob Wackernagel, Lectures on Syntax

David Langslow (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

The presentation of earlier theories of grammatical gender opens with detailed discussion of a famous scene from Aristophanes' Clouds. The presentation of the linguistic facts begins with the question of the marking of gender on (and by means of) pronouns of different kinds in various languages. With Lecture 2, the noun is looked at, to the formal differentiation of nouns according to the sex of the referent, to other types of gender-motivated opposition (e.g., Lat. animus vs anima), and to the relations between neuters and masculines/feminines. Lectures 3 and 4 address the relation between declension and grammatical gender, both in nouns denoting animate beings (including communia and epicoena) and in other nouns (including the example of Lat. dies). This chapter concludes (Lecture 5) with three further discussions: of theories concerning the origin of gender in names for inanimate objects; of the phenomenon of change of gender, with special reference to the gender of loanwords; and of gender-marking on adjectives.

Keywords:   adjective, animate, communia, epicoena, feminine, gender, inanimate, loanword, masculine, neuter

In the first series of lectures, we spoke many times of the meanings of the forms of nouns and pronouns, in particular of grammatical number in relation to the number of the verb, and, at least in general terms, of the cases. There remains to be considered a very remarkable thing, namely grammatical gender. This is an extremely difficult question, already much discussed in widely divergent terms, but difficulty and controversy do not entitle us to push anything to the sidelines: on the contrary, it is precisely such subjects which require more in‐depth treatment than those on which there is general agreement.

We can trace the study of gender back to its very beginnings, for nothing in the grammar of the ancient languages was so early discussed, to judge at least from our surviving sources. And we can document this with a very amusing text, a passage from Aristophanes' Clouds (423 BC).1 The plot is well known: Strepsiades, a narrow‐minded farmer from Attica, in financial difficulties because of his son, wishes to receive teaching from Socrates on how successfully to defend an unjust case. When he comes to the Master, he must submit himself to formal school‐instruction at his hands. After many theoretical lessons, on Strepsiades' insisting finally to be instructed in the ἀδικώτατος λόγος (‘most unjust argument’), Socrates says to him (658–9), ‘Before that, you must learn something else, namely which four‐footed animals are rightly masculine’. Despite the trap in ὀρθω̑ς (‘rightly’), Strepsiades thinks he needs no teaching on this matter and at once recites (661) the animal names κριός, τράγος, ταυ̑ρος, κύων, ἀλϵκτρύων (‘ram’, ‘goat’, ‘bull’, ‘dog’, ‘cockerel’). At the last item Socrates breaks in, not, as one might expect, because cocks don't have four feet, but rather, as he says to his pupil (662–3): ‘What sort of stupidity is that?—ἀλϵκτρύων can denote the female animal, too!’

Let us pause here a moment before going any further. Socrates' comment presupposes that in contemporary Attic the word ἀλϵκτρύων could mean also ‘hen’. That | is indeed the case: Athenaeus (Sophists at Dinner 9, 373e–374c), with his usual learning based on old sources, gives us numerous instances from 5th‐ and 4th‐century comedy, including some from Aristophanes, and in the same way the Atticist Phrynichus (Ecloga 200 Fischer=207, pp. 307–8 Rutherford) prescribes λέγϵ ἀλϵκτρυὼν καὶ ἐπὶ θήλϵος καὶ ἐπὶ ἄρρϵνος, ὡς οἱ παλαιοί (‘use (p.400) ἀλϵκτρύων both of the female and of the male, as the ancients did’). In Attic, then, the word was of common gender.

Let us see how the Clouds passage goes on. Defensive because of Socrates' objection, Strepsiades asks (665), ‘All right, so how must I refer to this animal?’, to which Socrates replies, ‘You must call the hen ἀλϵκτρύαινα, the cock ἀλέκτωρ.’

This reply is extremely striking. It makes Socrates propound the principle that nouns denoting sexual beings ought to have different endings according to the sex. This theoretical stricture is in line with a tendency of modern Greek, which we shall discuss later (II, 25–7 below). Note here by way of introduction examples such as θϵά and θέαινα (‘goddess’) in Homer, συνϵύνα ‘wife’ in an inscription from the Doric‐speaking island Astypalaea (COLLITZ & BECHTEL no. 3485=IG XII.3. 238), χοίρα ‘female piglet’ in a later literary text (a 2nd/1st‐c. BC papyrus, KERN (1922) no. 41, vv. 41, 117), compared with earlier, inherited ἡ θϵός, ἡ σύνϵυνος, ἡ χοι̑ρος. Incidentally, an early queen of Tegea is called Χοίρα.2

Also remarkable, however, are the means Socrates uses to effect the required differentiation. The masculine form that he teaches, ἀλέκτωρ ‘cock’, is a genuine word, but in Aristophanes' day it was confined to the poetic style and only later found acceptance, along with its derivatives and compounds, in prose (of the Septuagint, Strabo, the New Testament). Here, then, a teacher prescribing a special masculine form has borrowed it from the poets. The next striking thing is that the feminine that he teaches is not the regularly formed ἀλϵκτορίς (attested in Epicharmus (early 5th c.), frs. 113. 23, 150 in PCG I), and frequent from Aristotle on, admittedly sometimes with reference to both sexes), but ἀλϵκτρύαινα, which stands to ἀλϵκτρυών as δράκαινα to δράκων (‘snake’). This feminine form is found only here, and may with certainty be regarded as an invented form, especially as all other feminines in ‐αινα are formed to paroxytones.3 The theory, then, has caused violence to the language. Both ἀλέκτωρ and ἀλϵκτρυών are in fact names of heroes, which were extended to denote the bird, which the Greeks encountered after Homer; see FICK (1876: 169).4

Well, the grammar‐lesson in Clouds goes on. In the course of the conversation, Strepsiades comes to refer to a kneading‐trough as τη̑ν κάρδοπον (669), for which (p.401) Socrates takes him to task (670–80): ‘You give it a masculine name, although it is in fact feminine; that is just | as topsy‐turvy as the masculine name of the effeminate Cleonymus. You ought to say καρδόπη, with the ending ‐η.’

This section is even more remarkable than what we have already discussed. The word κάρδοπος, although referring to a sexually indifferent object, is said to be ‘feminine’ (θη̑λυς) simply because its article has the form it usually has with nouns denoting female beings. So, the poet jokes, in κάρδοπος we have a similar contrast as in the case of Cleonymus: both are feminine but have masculine names. Here we have the essence and the starting point of the approach to gender that dominates still today, the practice of labelling a noun as masculine or feminine according to the gender of its article or other attributes. This corresponds fundamentally to the popular point of view; cf. II, 39–40 below.—We see that Strepsiades can understand the word θη̑λυς (‘female; feminine’) only in terms of natural gender, and hence cannot see why the kneading‐trough should be called feminine. This is the first point.

The second extremely interesting point is that Socrates regards the ending ‐ος as wrong for a word which is feminine in meaning, and demands instead the ending ‐η (i.e. the form καρδόπη). Obviously, the observation that lies behind this is that nouns in ‐ος usually have the article ὁ, and that in nouns and adjectives marked for gender the article ἡ is followed by a noun in ‐η, that in ὁ by a noun in ‐ος: e.g. ἡ δούλη : ὁ δου̑λος (‘the female slave’ : ‘the male slave’), ἡ καλή : ὁ καλός (‘the beautiful woman’ : ‘the beautiful man’). Now, καρδόπη, the form suggested by Socrates as ‘more correct’, is again an invention, just like ἀλϵκτρύαινα above, but it, too, reflects a development to be observed in the living language itself, namely the tendency to transfer 2nd‐declension feminines to the 1st declension on grounds of gender. As with other innovations, Ionic led the way here, with e.g. ἡ ἀσβόλη (‘soot’, in Semonides of Amorgos, 7th c. BC), ἡ τάφρη (‘ditch’, in Herodotus; τράφ‐ in a 4th‐c. inscr. from Amorgos [SIG no. 963, 27]), ἡ ψάμμη (‘sand’, in Herodotus; but note also Doric ψάμμᾱ at Arist. Lys. 1261), instead of ἡ ἄσβολος, τάφρος, ψάμμος. We find ἀσβόλη also in the Septuagint and later, and so the Atticists warn against it (Phrynichus, Ecloga 82 Fischer=90, p. 197 Rutherford). Theophrastus uses ἡ ἐβένη for ἡ ἔβϵνος (‘ebony’). Callimachus forms to the feminine νη̑σος (‘island’) the gen. pl. νησάων (Hymn to Delos 66). In the imperial period, the island ἡ Συ̑ρος is referred to as Σύρα. In medieval and modern Greek, alongside the feminines βάτος (‘bramble, bush’), ὁδός (‘road’), πλάτανος (‘plane tree’) we find forms in ‐η, βάτη, ὁδή, πλατάνη, etc., the desire being to make the ending of the noun agree with the form of the article (cf. HATZIDAKIS 1892: 23–6).5

(p.402) The third and final section of the grammar lesson in Clouds bears on personal names. Strepsiades mentions feminine names in ‐ιλλα, ‐ιννα, ‐α, | and masculines in ‐ος and ‐ίας. On the latter, Socrates comes back at him (689): ‘how would you address Amynias?’—‘With (the vocative) Ἀμυνία.’ But ‐α, continues Socrates, is the ending of women's names, and if you use Ἀμυνία, you are calling Amynias a woman. Strepsiades finds that entirely appropriate, as Amynias avoids military service. This third remark, then, couches a joke aimed at an individual, but it is based on observations of the distinctive endings of male and female names.

This is all much more surprising than the ordinary reader, familiar with the teaching of gender in modern grammar books, might suppose. Let us ask ourselves first of all how it occurred to Aristophanes to put such considerations into the mouth of Socrates at all, when they suit neither Plato's nor Xenophon's depiction of him. Now, it has long been acknowledged that the Socrates of Clouds is just a mask for other philosophers of the time. The meteorological section (225–36) contains doctrines of Diogenes of Apollonia (DIELS & KRANZ no. 64, II, 51–69),6 and we know the real source of the ‘gender’ passage discussed here thanks to a testimony in Aristotle's Rhetoric, 3. 5, 1407b6–8 Πρωταγόρας τὰ γένη τω̑ν ὀνομάτων διῄρϵι, ἄρρϵνα καὶ θήλϵα καὶ σκϵύη (‘Protagoras distinguished the classes of nouns, masculines and feminines and things’), where the third term, σκϵύη, lit. ‘tools, equipment’, must obviously refer to the neuters. It is clear from this that when Socrates in Clouds presents his doctrines on gender as something new and strange, he is merely retailing what Protagoras was teaching at the time (DIELS & KRANZ no. 80, II, 253–71).7

Let us summarize Protagoras' teaching on the basis of the evidence of Aristophanes. One of his theorems was that nouns denoting animate beings normally have different endings depending on whether the being denoted is male or female, those for male beings ending in ‐ίας, ‐ος, ‐τωρ, ‐ων, those for female in ‐ία, ‐αινα. The second, and fundamentally more significant point was that he (p.403) applied the terms ἄρρην and θη̑λυς (‘male’ and ‘female’) also to those nouns denoting objects which took the forms of the article regularly used for male and female beings, and that he went on to demand that these nouns also should have distinctive endings, ‐ος for masculines, ‐η for feminines.

Altogether the above raise a number of problems concerning gender which are still contentious today, and it is gratifying that we know a little more about the teaching of Protagoras in this area; again, Aristotle is our witness. He reports (Sophistic Elenchi 14, 173b 17–22) that Protagoras rejected as solecistic the use as feminines of the words πήληξ ‘helmet’ and μη̑νις ‘wrath’. What does this mean? Protagoras might have objected to πήληξ on formal grounds, as most nouns in ‐ξ are masculine. But why did he object | to μη̑νις as a feminine, given that, after all, most words in ‐ις are feminine? There is only one possible explanation: a helmet is normally worn only by men, and μη̑νις denotes something violent and frightful. So Protagoras must have held the view that things which suit men, and also things which are violent and frightful, should preferably be denoted as masculines. This approach is found again in later thinkers, such as Jacob GRIMM, and a parallel to Protagoras's evaluation of μη̑νις in particular is found in a linguistic doctrine from the end of the eighteenth century, where the masculine gender of the nouns Zorn (‘anger’) and Hass (‘hatred’) is motivated on the basis of their meanings (see JELLINEK 1906: 312–13).

Aristotle built further on Protagoras' teaching. In the above passage of the Sophistic Elenchi and in Poetics 14, 1458a 8–17, he makes more detailed observations on different endings according to gender, and incidentally says that it is a failing of the neuters that they do not distinguish between nom. and acc. The most important point of principle, however, is that he retains the terms ἄρρην and θη̑λυς, and replaces only σκϵυ̑ος (which for him denotes an object) with τὸ μϵταξύ, ‘that (which lies) between (masc. and fem.)’, thus labelling the neuter in a purely negative way. Similarly negative is the term οὐδέτϵρον (‘neither’), which arises after Aristotle and becomes standard, and which the Latin grammarians correctly rendered as neutrum. The names of the other genders stay forever on the foundation laid by Protagoras: ἀρσϵνικός, θηλυκός in later Greek, masculinum, femininum in Latin, whence our terms today.

This Protagorean reference to words for objects also as ‘male’ and ‘female’ (depending on whether they take the masculine or feminine form of the pronoun) is found also in the only developed linguistic tradition to have emerged independently of the Greeks, that of the Indian grammarians. They go even further than the Greeks in that they refer to even the neuters with a term proper to the sexual realm, using a word normally employed of eu nuchs and hermaphrodites (p.404) (klībá‐ ‘impotent, a eunuch; (of) neuter gender’), although they also use a term meaning ‘genderless’ (napuṃsaka‐).8

Our term gender (Latin genus) goes back to Gk γένος used in this sense from Protagoras on. This in turn rests on the use of γένος to mean ‘sex’, in both abstract and collective senses. Latin has the advantage of offering separate terms for natural gender and grammatical gender, and English is even more fortunate, now using the word gender (via French from Latin genus) exclusively in the grammatical sense,9 just as the English | terms noun (Latin nomen ‘name’) and tense (Latin tempus ‘time’) are confined to grammar. Loanwords often have a narrower range of meaning in the borrowing language than in the language from which they are borrowed, because a foreign word is often required only for a specific use.10 The Anglo‐Saxons were thoroughly familiar with the notions ‘sex’, ‘name’, ‘time’, but when it came to describing language they were dependent on earlier knowledge of other peoples.

On the further development of the theory of grammatical gender, with special reference to German, see JELLINEK (1906: 295–316) and (1913–14: II, 184–90). For a large, summary account of the subject, see, in addition to the general linguistic works and grammars mentioned earlier, the article ‘Geschlecht (grammatisches)’ (‘Gender (grammatical)’) by the brilliant linguist F. A. POTT (1856) in ERSCH and GRUBER'S well‐known encyclopaedia,11 and also MADVIG (1836; German version 1875). There is also ‘La théorie du genre’ by the French scholar DE LA GRASSERIE (1906; non vidi).12 Many other important works will be mentioned as we proceed.13—By way of supplement, let me mention the fine (p.405) outline in MEILLET's article on the category of gender (1921a), together with the comments of JACOBSOHN in his review of the first edition of the present work (1926: 374–7).

But enough of the theory. It is time to consider more closely the facts themselves. The first thing to note is that there is a class of words belonging broadly to the noun, i.e. equipped with case forms, for which true gender distinctions do not exist. Thanks to August SCHLEICHER (1876: §§264–5), it even became common to use the term ‘ungendered pronouns’ (‘ungeschlechtige Pronomina’) of the pronouns which we normally call ‘personal’ (in German, ‘personalia’) because they vary with the relevant grammatical person. This involves especially the first‐ and second‐person pronouns and the reflexives. The term ‘ungendered pronouns’ makes no reference to the meaning and function of this class of words, but highlights a special peculiarity of them. And by and large we do indeed have here single forms, no matter the sex of the person referred to by the pronoun. This genderlessness of the personal pronoun, which already Apollonius Dyscolus (Syntax 2. 24 [GG II.2, 143–4=pp. 93–4 Householder]) and Priscian (12. 16; 17. 65=GL II, 588, 1–15; III, 147, 5–7) tried to explain (cf. also HARRIS 1751: 70), is not something we would necessarily expect, but rather a peculiarity of the Indo‐European languages. Semitic, e.g., has two forms of each pronoun, singular and plural, for the second and third persons, depending on whether they refer to male or female beings, and similarly two sets of personal endings in the verb.14 In Indo‐European, Tocharian makes this distinction in the first‐person singular pronoun.15|

In the Greek reflexive and related forms, gender is not always left unmarked. Two phenomena in particular are relevant here. First, Gk αὐτός (which inflects for all three genders) functions partly on its own as a reflexive and partly as a specifier with pronouns of all three persons when they are used reflexively. The former we see in Homer, e.g. at Od. 10. 27 αὐτω̑ν γὰρ ἀπωλόμϵθ᾽ ἀφραδίῃσιν (‘we were destroyed by our own foolishness’), or in a compound such as αὐτόματος, literally (p.406) ‘following one's own mind’. As a specifier it gradually fuses with the pronoun in Ionic and Attic, e.g. in ἑαυτου̑ (masc. gen. sg.), and in a different form in Doric (αὐταυτω̑, etc.). Now, in both types of case, since the reflexive relation obtains as a rule only with a personal subject, only the masc. and fem. forms of αὐτός are so used, and it is as an oddity that the ancient grammarians highlight a passage of Euripides with the neuter, fr. 693 TrGF V.2 ϵἰ̑α δὴ, ξύλον, ἔγϵιρέ μοι σϵαυτὸ καὶ γίγνου θρασύ (‘O timber, please wake yourself, and become bold’).

Secondly, as is well known, the third‐person pronoun which begins in the singular originally with digamma and in the plural with σφ‐ is used also anaphorically (II, 84 below) in Homer and in later Ionic, at first probably just with personal reference but already in Homer also of objects, e.g. at Od. 4. 355 Φάρον δὲ ἑ κικλήσκουσιν (‘and they call it Pharos’), ἑ refers back to νη̑ σος ‘island’ in the preceding line, and at Il. 5. 195 παρὰ δέ σφιν ἑκάστῳ δίζυγϵς ἵπποι ἑστα̑ σιν (‘and by each chariot a pair of horses stands’), σφιν refers to δίφροι ‘chariot’ in 193. A consequence of this anaphoric use was that in Ionic, since the acc. pl. σφϵας given its ending could not refer back to a neuter noun, a new neuter form σφϵα was made (Herodotus 1. 46. 3, etc.).

A certain indifference to gender is seen also in a second group of pronouns, namely the interrogatives (and indefinites). In German, if we ask for a noun to be supplied, we ask either wer? (‘who?’) or was? (‘what?’), distinguishing only between persons and things. Given an unknown entity, it is usually already clear whether it is a person or a thing, but only in certain cases is the natural gender certain, whether from the context or from the nature of the utterance. In Greek, τίς ἔγημϵν; (‘who married?’) can ask only after a man, τίς ἐγήματο; (‘who married?’) only after a woman. In German, the dative of the pronoun is used exclusively in questions about a person: mit wem? (‘with whom?’), von wem? (‘by whom?’) are used to ask after a person, and womit? (‘with what?’), wovon? (‘by what?’) are their counterparts used when asking after a thing, although Luther, for instance, could use wem? also of a thing (e.g. Luke 13: 18, 20).16 The same is true also of the indefinite and relative uses of the interrogatives, so, too, in Greek with τίς; τις and τί; τι. And in Old Latin, quis is used even in questions in which a woman is clearly in mind, e.g. in the dramatist M. Pacuvius (c.220–130 BC), fr. 257 Warmington (Aeëtes to Medea) quis tu es mulier? (‘what woman are you?’), as is indefinite quis, e.g. Ter. Eun. 677–8 hunc oculis suis nostrarum | numquam quisquam uidit (‘none of us has ever seen him with her own eyes’). Similarly, in modern French you ask after a person with qui?, after a thing with quoi?. In non‐Indo‐European languages, too, the interrogative pronoun shows this sort of two‐gender inflection, so in Semitic, in which personal (p.407) pronouns distinguish masc. and fem. (cf. II, 6 above and n. 14, p. 405),17 in Finno‐Ugric, which otherwise has no grammatical gender as such (MISTELI 1893: 526 n.),18 and in the Caucasian languages (cf. Th. KLUGE 1925).19 Compare also German jemand : etwas (‘someone’ : ‘something’), niemand : nichts (‘no one’ : ‘nothing’): cf. Latin nemo : nihil; French personne : rien.

This restriction of gender to the opposition between persons and things is reminiscent of the linguistic distinction between animate and inanimate, to which the term ‘gender’ is also sometimes applied. This distinction plays an especially important role in the Amerindian languages (see F. MÜLLER (1876–88: II, 194) on Algonquian),20 but the Indo‐European languages too are not unaffected by it: in Slavic, for example, the object is in the genitive when it is animate, in the accusative when inanimate.21

On the other hand, in most languages obvious efforts are made to distinguish masc. and fem., even in this group of pronouns, especially when used attributively, whether by means of the alternative stem Lat. quo‐ (masc. and neut.) vs quā‐ (fem.) or by using derived or compound forms. While this is true of Latin, early Greek admittedly used even such unfeminine‐looking forms as του, τῳ / τϵῳ (‘some, a certain’, gen., dat. sg. masc. or fem.) as attributes of fem. nouns; on this see most recently KALLENBERG (1917/18: 481–97).

In contrast to the classes of pronoun so far considered, the so‐called demonstrative pronoun (including German er, sie, es ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’) has three distinct forms in several cases, in particular in the nom. and acc., which, when used (p.408) independently (and not referring to something already denoted by a noun), serve to mark natural gender. So e.g. Gk οὑ̑τος (‘this’, masc. nom. sg.) refers to a creature of the male sex, αὕτη (‘this’, fem. nom. sg.) to one of the female sex, while impersonal objects are referred to with του̑το (‘this’, neut. nom.‐acc. sg.). Variation of the form of the demonstrative pronouns in independent use, then, is very much to do with marking natural gender. (The fem. τηλικου̑τος (‘at such an age’) at Soph. El. 614 and Oed. Col. 751 is inexplicable.) This applies also of course to the forms of the article when used pronominally.

No part of language is so closely involved in marking natural gender as these pronouns. You know the line of Hebel (in ‘Der Schwarzwälder in Breisgau’) that goes, 's isch e Sie, es isch kei Er (‘it's a she, not a he’), where the pronouns alone serve to denote male and female creatures.22 This type of expression is widespread, at least throughout the Germanic area. In German it is attested from the Middle Ages on; cf. Jacob | GRIMM, d. gr. iii, 307–8 n. ***, and WEIGAND & HIRT (1909–10), s.v. ‘sie’. Even the article can precede, or a derivational suffix follow. Hans Sachs uses Sielein in the sense of Weiblein (‘little woman’), and huntsmen use Sieke of a female animal.23 [Add.: Compare Kanarien‐sie (‘female canary’), Sperling‐siechen (‘female sparrow’), die sie (‘the female’) adduced from the German of East Prussia by PRELLWITZ (1897: 95–6 n.).]—English also knows this usage, in a he, a she meaning, exactly as in Hebel, ‘a male creature’, ‘a female creature’. These may also take an attributive adjective, and form the plurals hes, shes; and Tennyson speaks of she‐society.24 Hence the usage that English has in common with Danish25 of marking the sex of a living creature by prefixing the pronoun to the noun, especially when the noun alone can denote a creature of the other gender than the one intended: e.g. he‐goat, she‐goat ‘male goat’, ‘female goat’, she‐devil (cf. German Teufelin).

At the same time, however, often in the case of these (demonstrative) pronouns and always in the case of the relative, which inflects in the same way, the use of the forms which otherwise serve to mark natural gender is determined by one word, the meaning of which the pronouns take up, and with which they must agree. This will be the subject of the next lecture!


(1) On this scene in Clouds, 658 ff., see now Willi (2003: 98–100) with further references.

(2) The name is recorded twice, in fact, each time as a nickname: by the historian Deinias of Argos (3rd c. BC), fr. 8 (from Herodian, GG III.2, 913, 5–9) for a Queen Perimede, and by Pausanias 8. 47. 2; 48.5 for one Marpessa (LGPN IIIA, s.v.). Both refer to the same historical context (the digging of the Tegean plain by enslaved Spartans) and perhaps have a single point of origin.

(3) There is at least one counterexample to this general claim, in θέαινα ‘goddess’ ← θεός. Still, it is probable that ἀλεκτρύαινα would have struck the audience as a comic formation. On the suffix ‐αινα, see Chantraine & Meillet (1932), Chantraine (1933: 107–9), and Willi (2003: 100 n. 9, 171) with further references.

(4) Both words are attested as male personal names in Mycenaean (Aura Jorro, s.vv. ‘ạ‐re‐ko‐to‐re’, ‘a‐re‐ku‐tu‐ru‐wo’, with bibliography; cf. Ἀλέκτωρ on 6th‐c. Cyprus [LGPN I, s.v.]), but no bird is so named until Theognis 864 (mid‐6th c.). On the bird(s), cf. Thompson (1936: s.v. ‘ἀλεκτρυών’), and see now Arnott (2007),. Pollard (1977: 88–9) suggests that the bird reached Greece via Persia in the 7th c., but it is now clear that this is at least a century too late: for full discussion of the evidence for the bird and its names, starting from precisely W.'s remarks here, see Risch (1990), who argues that it is absent from Homer as being not in keeping with epic style, a view very much in line with W. (1916: 224 ff.) on words ‘missing’ from Homer.

(5) These particular forms in ‐η are not to be found in the standard dictionaries or grammars of Byzantine and modern Greek; Hatzidakis (1892: 25) quotes chapter and verse only for πλατάνη, ‘(Trois Poèmes 23)’: βάτη he ascribes to Chios, ὁδή to the Middle Ages! On the other hand, Browning (1983: 59) reports other ways of dealing with the anomalous feminines in ‐ος as follows: (a) shift of gender, to masc. (ὁ βάτος ‘bush’, ὁ πλάτανος ‘plane‐tree’, ὁ ἄμμος ‘sand’) or neut. (τὸ βάσανο ‘torture’); (b) replacement by neut. diminutive forms (τὸ ἀμπέλι ‘vine’, τὸ ῥαβδί ‘rod’); (c) replacement by synonyms (ἡ ὁδός ‘road’ by ὁ δρόμος); (d) the formation of a few feminines in ‐ο or ‐ον (ἡ ἄμμο ‘sand’, etc.): this last type illustrates the development of a simple opposition between masc. (nom. ‐s : gen. ‐zero) and fem. (nom. ‐zero : gen. ‐s). On both the ancient state of affairs and later developments, cf. Schwyzer 457–61, 585–6, Schwyzer & Debrunner 30–5, Seiler (1958), Gignac (1976–81: II, 38 n. 1), and II, 49 & n. 41, p. 460 below.

(6) The last of the pre‐Socratics, hardly older than Socrates himself, Diogenes of Apollonia (probably the colony of Miletus on the Black Sea) is perhaps best known for teaching the ‘monist’ doctrine of Anaximenes of Miletus (mid 6th c.) that one element, air, was the source of all things, although Vander Waerdt (1994: 70–5) attributes to Diogenes all but one of the physical theories maintained by Socrates in Clouds. For Diogenes' surviving fragments, and discussion, see Kirk, Raven, & Schofield (1983: ch. 16).

(7) On Protagoras of Abdera, see I, 13 and n. 2, p. 23 above; on his teachings on gender in particular, Matthews (1994: 44 and nn.) and Willi (2003: 99–100). It has been shown that, in addition to Protagoras and Diogenes, other early philosophers, in particular Empedocles, Pythagoras, and Hippon, are alluded to in Clouds. On Aristophanes' creation of a ‘composite Socrates’, ‘who holds Diogenean ideas, lives in a Pythagorean setting, and uses Empedoclean language’, see Willi (2003: 116 and ch. 4).

(8) In Sanskrit, strī means ‘woman’, ‘female’ and ‘feminine’, and puṃs (nom. sg. pumān) means ‘man’, ‘male’ and ‘masculine’ (so, with reference to the natural gender of animals, strī and puṃs are used); the word for gender itself is liṇga‐, which, although its basic meaning is ‘mark, sign’, also denotes the male organ or phallus. In his commentary on Pāṇinī, under the first rule in a section teaching the addition of suffixes to express the feminine gender (4. 1. 3), Patañjali tries to explain the grammatical gender of asexual objects in terms of the different states of their various properties or qualities (‘guṇas’); see Raja (1990: 118 & nn.) with further references. I am most grateful to Jim Benson for help with this note.

(9) This is readily confirmed for W.'s day by a glance at the 2nd edn of the OED, s.v. ‘gender’. It emerges that sense 1 ‘kind, sort, type, genus’ is obsolete since the end of the 18th c., while sense 3 ‘transf. Sex’ is ‘now only jocular’.

(10) On lexical borrowing, see Hock (1991: ch. 14) with further references.

(11) This extraordinary monument to German idealism—the (unfinished) General Encyclopaedia of Sciences and Arts edited by the Halle professors J. S. Ersch and J. G. Gruber, of which 167 volumes appeared between 1818 and 1889 covering A‐Ligatur and O‐Phyxius—is miraculously available in its entirety online at <http://dz‐srv1.sub.uni-goettingen.de/cache/toc/D141451.html>.

(12) To judge from Postgate (1910), a review of another book, on semantics, by de la Grasserie, this is no great loss.

(13) For a good, recent general introduction to grammatical gender, see Corbett (1991). On the functions of gender in the languages of the world, with special reference to Indo‐European, see still the remarkable collection of material by the Dutch linguist Royen (1929), and, for more recent typological studies, note the collections of Unterbeck & Rissanen (2000) and Hellinger & Bussmann (2001–3), the comparison of Niger‐Congo and Romance by Kihm (2005) and the broader survey of noun‐categorization devices including gender by Aikhenvald (2000). The recent study of gender in Proto‐Indo‐European by Matasović (2004) may be cautiously recommended; on gender in Greek and the history of the declensions, see Morpurgo Davies (1968a) with further references.

(14) Independent pronouns and ‘actor affixes’ are conveniently set out for all the major Semitic languages, and for Proto‐Semitic, by Lipiński (1997: §§36.2, 40.2).

(15) So, e.g. the nom. (Lat. ego) forms are: Toch. A masc. näṣ, fem. ñuk, Toch. B masc. ñäś, fem. ñiś. Even in 1928, the Tocharian branch of IE (comprising two languages, Tocharian A [East] and Tocharian B [West]) was still a relatively recent discovery. Most of the largely Buddhist documents (of the 6th–8th c. AD) were unearthed in the twenty years or so immediately before the First World War, in the Tarim River Basin in Chinese Turkestan, and the Tocharian languages were first recognized as IE in 1907. This branch of the family is remarkable in all sorts of ways. For a good introduction, see Pinault (1989); there is a grammar and an etymological dictionary (of Toch. B) in English (D. Adams 1988; 1999), but the standard reference grammar is still Krause & Thomas (1960–4). On the sg. 1 pronouns, see Jasanoff (1989).

(16) Cf. D. Wb., s.v. ‘wer, was’, Formen 2. (c).

(17) The forms of the interrogative pronouns in the Semitic languages are set out by Lipiński (1997: §36.60), who notes (§36.58) that the South Semitic Ethiopic language Ge'ez has masc. and fem. forms for both ‘who?’ and ‘what?’.

(18) In consequence, in Finno‐Ugric languages there is a single form for ‘he’ and ‘she’: e.g. Finnish hän, Hungarian ö. The distinction between ‘who?’ and ‘what?’ is seen in e.g. Finnish kuka and mikä, Hungarian ku and mi. See Abondolo (1998a: 170; 1998b: 444–5).

(19) In the matter of gender, the Caucasian languages are very diverse. Lezgi, for example, illustrates W.'s point, the only gender distinction here being between ‘who?’ and ‘what?’ (see Haspelmath 1993: §11.5). In other Nakh and Daghestanian (Northeast Caucasian) languages, however, two, three, four or five genders are distinguished (Nichols 2003: esp. 212–15, 223–33), while in Abkhaz (Northwest Caucasian) there are personal pronouns with distinct masc. and fem. forms (Klimov 1994: 64–5, 68).

(20) Grammatical gender is relatively rare in North American languages, some of which show none at all (e.g. the Eskimo‐Aleut family), while others (e.g. the Pomoan languages of northern California) mark gender distinctions only on the independent pronouns. For an excellent overview of gender in the languages of native North America, see Mithun (1999: 95–103; and Index, s.v. ‘animacy’). With regard to South America, Dixon (1999: 8, 10) includes the presence of gender or classifier systems in the list of features which he uses to characterize the languages of the Amazon and to contrast the latter with the languages of the Andes, where gender distinctions are very rare.

(21) The gen. in this function is sometimes called the ‘genitive‐accusative’. It arose in Proto‐Slavonic because sound‐change had caused nom. and acc. sg. of certain masc. stems to fall together, which gave rise to potential confusion between subject and direct object. This disambiguating use of the gen. led in effect to the creation of a new gender, sometimes called the ‘virile’. On its prehistory, see Schenker (1993: 108). In Old Church Slavonic, the gen.‐acc. expanded from nouns denoting healthy, free, male persons to all animate masc. singulars, including animals. Personal names, however, tended to keep the acc. form. On OCS, see Huntley (1993: 136–8) and Lunt (2001: §§4.13, 18.21).

(22) This is in the last verse of the poem ‘The Blackforestman in Breisgau’, composed in the dialect of Wiesental, in the collection Alemannische Gedichte (Karlsruhe 1803; vol. 2, 108 of the complete works, Karlsruhe 1834), for which the poet, theologian, and teacher Johann Peter Hebel (1760–1826) is best known. Hebel is the most important of the poets who have written in the Alemannic dialect, and was known to and much admired by Goethe, Gottfried Keller and the brothers Grimm. (Cf. p. xiv above.)

(23) For references to instances of Sielein and Sieke, also of Sicke and Siechen (all consisting of the pronoun sie ‘she’ + a diminutive suffix), see D. Wb., s.v. ‘sie’, II, 2, i, α and γ, respectively. The form Sieke is said to be used of birds in particular, and esp. in northern Germany.

(24) The coinage she‐society, in the sense of female company, occurs in the prologue (v. 158) of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem The Princess (1847), the inspiration of Gilbert and Sullivan's Princess Ida.

(25) In Danish, note e.g. hunbjørn ‘she‐bear’, hanbi ‘drone, lit. he‐bee’.