After a short overview of the main linguistic theories pertaining to grammatical gender, the chapter focuses on the role played by this category – often considered ‘marginal’ due to its non-existence in several languages, though also acting as a ‘covert’ category in many of the so-called naturally gendered languages whenever issues of translation arise. Since ‘gender information’ can get lost or overemphasized in translation from a language which possesses grammatical gender to a language which possesses natural gender (and vice versa), we provide an approach to the topic by quoting examples not only from Romance languages (where gender is always relevant) but also from languages belonging to other macro-families such as Bantu. In these languages, gender structures are often based on different criteria compared to those stemming from ‘biological/referential gender’: noun classes and classifiers (morphologically marked or unmarked), latent lexical categories emerging with distinctive ‘reactances’, etc. This chapter aims to show that whenever languages come into contact, in translation or in other kinds of communication, this will inevitably increase awareness of the many gender-bound associations in actual language use: ‘genderization,’ emerging both in languages with grammatical gender and in those without, necessarily calling for a deliberate expressive choice.
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