I got past my most difficult translation homework yet (an abstract of a scientific-level article on a linguistic question of feminine
and masculine noun forms - I love my translation courses, but that was one tough cookie). :D
I could see this being a rather interesting challenge, especially if you're translating between languages that handle gender differently. Do languages that don't have grammatical gender even have terms to refer to such concepts?
The article deals with English and Slovene.
In general, English more or less follows biological sex with gender in grammar (feminine forms go with "she", masculine with "he" and neuter (usually inanimate objects and animals where sex is difficult to determine, e.g. spiders and insects) with "it", while Slovene is a prime example of how arbitrary grammatical gender is.
Examples: a "boulder" can be refered to as "skala" in Slovene and it's gramatical gender is femine, while a "stone" is "kamen" in Slovene and has masculine gramatical gender, "girl" can be "dekle" with neuter gender or "punca" with a femine gender, but the letter is a slightly informal word.
Now if that wasn't enough, as far as I know there's no special word to refer to gender as such, even in grammar "slovnični spol" is used and while it corresponds to "grammatical gender" in English, the Slovene word "spol" refers to biological sex and has to be premodified by "grammatical" in "slovnični spol" to convey the concept of grammatical gender.
So, Slovene has no concept of the English "they" as a gender-neutral pronoun, when referring to a person one must use "he" or "she" and because of grammatical agreement, the rest of the sentence must adapt to the chosen pronoun.
- English: "Ines attended a seminar in New York."
- Slovene: "Ines je obiskovala seminar v New Yorku." - "je obiskovala" is the verb form that tells you this is the past tense with "je" and "obiskovala" carries some of the past tense + it's marked as a feminine form of the verb.
Granted "Ines" is a feminine name, but I wanted to use one that isn't specifically Slovene and the focus is on the behavior of the verb.
Notice how "in New York" becomes "v New Yorku
That's because the complications of Slovene don't stop here.
Every word has to have the correct case.
I found a good example in my notes.
Slovene vs. English
- the book
- the book’s /of the book
- to the book
- the book
- v knjigi
- in the book
- s knjigo
- with the book
And another thing, there a virtually no gender-neutral expressions for people in Slovene.
Examples of a few job expressions
(English (neutral) + Slovene (masculine and femaine pairs):
- "writer" - "pisatelj" - "pisateljica"
- "farmer" - "kmet" - "kmetica"
- "author" - "avtor" - "avtorica"
I could go with some others, but I'm trying to avoid using č, š, ž as they won't be displayed correctly without having your computer set to Slovene.
They're letters used to represent sounds - think of the initial sounds in the English words "chips" and "share" and "gigolo" (not originally an English word, but a good example for the sound).
The thing is, 99% of feminine forms are derived from the masculine ones, making it grammatically dominant.
The masculine form is also used in the generic sense to refer to both sexes, usually with a footnote to make it clear.
In short notifications, one can use both forms, but in longer and more complex texts (such a legal documents) that is nearly impossible because the rest of every sentence would need to sustain the grammatical agreement between the form of the noun and the rest of the structure.
- English: "Every driver must be responsible while driving."
- Slovene - trying to fit in both forms: "Vsak voznik/voznica mora biti odgovoren/odgovorna, ko vozi."
- Slovene - normal usage with the masculine form to refer to male and female drivers:
"Vsak voznik mora biti odgovoren, ko vozi."
A single sentence works, but a longer document would be very difficult to read with such slashes and both forms all over it.
Oh, and the rules of how things should be written are very strict in Slovene.
E.g. Imagine having to put a comma after every clause, correctly every time no exceptions.
There are also several different declensions for feminine and masculine nouns and, because more information about the gender and case in conveyed in inflections, Slovene has not fixed word order, unlike English that must follow the sequence of "subject + predicator + object", but that's too in depth.
I hope I've managed to give a good overview of how complex gender is in grammar in Slovene and that it wasn't too long or off-topic. :)
P.S. Thank you, Grammarly, for all the corrections. XD
After transparecy of extra spaces was erased: Hm, why is the posting system so alergic to spaces? :(
I got past my most difficult translation homework yet (an abstract of a scientific-level article on a linguistic question of femine and masculine noun forms - I love my translation courses, but that was one tough cookie). :D
and here I thought algebra was tough!
It wouldn't be university without a challenge. ;)