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    Equus vs. Canis

    Silly question, but I thought I'd ask since my son just asked me. Why doesn't Equus have natural gender, but canis does?
    Tracy
    My boys: JR, Riley, and Jack
    MP 8A, 7A, and MP2

    #2
    Re: Equus vs. Canis

    Originally posted by GeorgiaMom View Post
    Silly question, but I thought I'd ask since my son just asked me. Why doesn't Equus have natural gender, but canis does?
    Not a silly question at all! Animals don't all follow the same rule when it comes to gender. For "horse," Latin has one word for a male horse (equus) and a different word for a female horse (equa). For "dog," Latin only has the one word canis, which will change gender depending on whether it refers to a male or female dog. It would be more accurate to say canis has common gender, but one could also say it has natural gender depending on the context.

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      #3
      Re: Equus vs. Canis

      Michael,
      I've been curious if this could also be because 'canis' is a third declension noun and the masculine and feminine forms are the same, versus equus/equa needing two separate words?
      Is that part of it, or just a coincidence?
      Festina lentē,
      Jessica P

      2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
      DS 12th • HLN, Latin online, DE math/sci - Headed to Hillsdale College next fall
      DD 10th • HLN, Latin online
      DD 7th • HLN & Home
      DS 4th • HLN & Home
      Me • Memoria College, this summer: MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

      Teaching TFL and co-directing @
      Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

      Comment


        #4
        Re: Equus vs. Canis

        Thanks, Michael, for the quick response! So equa would then be declined as a 1DF noun? I'm trying to see how you would tell the gender for canis since the m/f 3rdD case endings are the same, if you saw it in a sentence. I'm guessing by adjectives? Like bona canis or bonus canis would clue me in as to what gender were talking about? Sorry...I know this isn't really important stuff, but it helps me wrap my brain around the language a bit more! Thanks for taking the time!
        Tracy
        My boys: JR, Riley, and Jack
        MP 8A, 7A, and MP2

        Comment


          #5
          Re: Equus vs. Canis

          Originally posted by pickandgrin View Post
          Michael,
          I've been curious if this could also be because 'canis' is a third declension noun and the masculine and feminine forms are the same, versus equus/equa needing two separate words?
          Is that part of it, or just a coincidence?
          Unfortunately, with animals it varies from word to word. For example, the Latin word for "fox" is also a 3rd-declension noun, vulpes. However, vulpes is always grammatically feminine, even when referring to a male fox!

          Comment


            #6
            Re: Equus vs. Canis

            Originally posted by GeorgiaMom View Post
            Thanks, Michael, for the quick response! So equa would then be declined as a 1DF noun? I'm trying to see how you would tell the gender for canis since the m/f 3rdD case endings are the same, if you saw it in a sentence. I'm guessing by adjectives? Like bona canis or bonus canis would clue me in as to what gender were talking about? Sorry...I know this isn't really important stuff, but it helps me wrap my brain around the language a bit more! Thanks for taking the time!
            Yes, any adjectives or pronouns that have to agree in gender would tell you. Without those, canis will be like the English word dog, where the gender cannot be determined from the noun alone.

            Comment


              #7
              Re: Equus vs. Canis

              Originally posted by Michael View Post
              Unfortunately, with animals it varies from word to word. For example, the Latin word for "fox" is also a 3rd-declension noun, vulpes. However, vulpes is always grammatically feminine, even when referring to a male fox!
              Haha! Ok. Lots of learning ahead for this ol' mom.
              Festina lentē,
              Jessica P

              2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
              DS 12th • HLN, Latin online, DE math/sci - Headed to Hillsdale College next fall
              DD 10th • HLN, Latin online
              DD 7th • HLN & Home
              DS 4th • HLN & Home
              Me • Memoria College, this summer: MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

              Teaching TFL and co-directing @
              Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

              Comment


                #8
                Re: Equus vs. Canis

                Was natural gender vs. grammatical gender something native students of Latin talked about, or is this a superimposed modern distinction/rule being drawn? If there are only three genders- masculine, feminine, or neuter- then talking about grammatical vs. natural gender may be more philosophical than an actual rule of language, correct?

                Comment


                  #9
                  Re: Equus vs. Canis

                  Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
                  Was natural gender vs. grammatical gender something native students of Latin talked about, or is this a superimposed modern distinction/rule being drawn? If there are only three genders- masculine, feminine, or neuter- then talking about grammatical vs. natural gender may be more philosophical than an actual rule of language, correct?
                  I do not know when this way of analyzing Latin gender developed. Most likely, it dates back to the Medieval era. However, the point of these "rules" is to HELP students memorize the gender of nouns. The Romans, being native speakers, would not have needed to analyze their nouns' gender. Second language learners looked for patterns to help them. If these patterns, or "rules," are helpful, that's great. However, if they are confusing and making memorization more difficult, then simply memorize the gender of nouns word by word. As some of the forum moms love to point out, do not let the rules become idols

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Re: Equus vs. Canis

                    Will the natural gender references continue all the way through Fourth Form Latin?

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Re: Equus vs. Canis

                      Originally posted by Aragorn View Post
                      Will the natural gender references continue all the way through Fourth Form Latin?
                      When a noun with natural gender is learned, that rule may be referred to. We will also teach some patterns for 3rd-declension nouns, e.g. those that end in -tas -tatis are always feminine.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Re: Equus vs. Canis

                        Originally posted by Michael View Post
                        I do not know when this way of analyzing Latin gender developed. Most likely, it dates back to the Medieval era. However, the point of these "rules" is to HELP students memorize the gender of nouns. The Romans, being native speakers, would not have needed to analyze their nouns' gender. Second language learners looked for patterns to help them. If these patterns, or "rules," are helpful, that's great. However, if they are confusing and making memorization more difficult, then simply memorize the gender of nouns word by word. As some of the forum moms love to point out, do not let the rules become idols
                        The gender rules taught in First Form are so helpful! Noun/adj agreement (which is utterly foreign to English speakers) is impossible without mastering the gender of each noun. I'm thankful to have a framework from which to start with new nouns.
                        Festina lentē,
                        Jessica P

                        2021-2022 • 12th year HSing • 10th year MP
                        DS 12th • HLN, Latin online, DE math/sci - Headed to Hillsdale College next fall
                        DD 10th • HLN, Latin online
                        DD 7th • HLN & Home
                        DS 4th • HLN & Home
                        Me • Memoria College, this summer: MPOA Fourth Form for Adults

                        Teaching TFL and co-directing @
                        Highlands Latin Nashville Cottage School, est. 2016

                        Comment

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