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Languages 2017, 2(3), 15; doi:10.3390/languages2030015

“Language Is the Place from Where the World Is Seen”—On the Gender of Trees, Fruit Trees and Edible Fruits in Portuguese and in Other Latin-Derived Languages

Department of Biology, University of Évora, Ap. 94, 7002-554 Évora, Portugal
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Academic Editors: Usha Lakshmanan and Osmer Balam
Received: 9 January 2017 / Revised: 26 July 2017 / Accepted: 31 July 2017 / Published: 25 August 2017
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Abstract

Trees have always been important as natural entities carrying a strong symbolic and metaphorical weight, not to mention their practical uses. Therefore, words and their gender, used to name natural entities as important as trees and particularly fruit-trees and their fruits, are also important. Starting from the finding that Portuguese and Mirandese, the second official spoken language of Portugal, are Latin-derived languages in which ‘tree’ has feminine gender like it had in Latin, we investigated (1) the gender of ‘tree’ in Portuguese from the 10th to the 17th centuries sampling legal, literary, historical, scholar (mostly grammars and dictionaries), and religious manuscripts or printed sources; (2) the presumed variation in the gender of ‘tree’ during a short period in the 16th and 17th century; (3) the likely causes for that variation, which we found to be mostly due to typographic constraints and to compositors’ errors; (4) the gender distribution of fruit trees and fruits produced by fruit trees in Latin and in twelve Latin-derived languages. Portuguese, together with the intimately related Mirandese and Barranquenho, forms a cluster distinct from all other Latin-derived languages in its use of the feminine in the names of fruit trees and fruits, and in the gender agreement between them. View Full-Text
Keywords: árvore; edible fruits; gender; Latin-derived languages; Portuguese; tree árvore; edible fruits; gender; Latin-derived languages; Portuguese; tree
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Dias, L.S.; Dias, A.S. “Language Is the Place from Where the World Is Seen”—On the Gender of Trees, Fruit Trees and Edible Fruits in Portuguese and in Other Latin-Derived Languages. Languages 2017, 2, 15.

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