Anonymous asked in Society & CultureLanguages · 10 months ago

Italian help?

In Latin, one would use "mia" (in the phrase "cara mia") even if the speaker is a male because "mia" is referring to "cara," which is a feminine noun, so the "my" would be feminine too. But in Italian does that rule still apply, or would a male speaker say "cara mio" instead because he is male?

2 Answers

  • Pontus
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    The gender of the speaker is irrelevant.  Grammatical gender refers to the noun used.

    If saying "my dear" to a woman, the speaker says cara mia (doesn't matter if the speaker is male or female).  

    If saying it to a woman, caro mio (speaker can be male or female). 

    I don't think some of the others who responded understood what you were asking. 

    Grammatical gender always refers to the noun chosen, in languages that have grammatical gender.  The speaker's grammatical gender only matters when talking about the speaker (in which case it still matches the gender of the noun used.  If the person's name is used, then the gr. gender matches the physical sex.  If a pronoun is used, it's gr. gender matches that of the noun replaced). 

    English (and many other languages) does not have grammatical gender at all.  Instead, it has words for physical sex.  It doesn't matter what noun is chosen.  You only look at the physical sex in the real world - male, female, or neuter (also used when male/female is unknown or doesn't matter or when the noun refers to an idea instead of something physical). 

    For grammatical gender, you cannot know which gender until the noun is chosen.  The physical sex of the object doesn't change, but the grammatical gender can change depending on the specific noun used to label that object.   Latin has three grammatical genders; masculine, feminine, & neuter.  Some languages have two genders (masculine/feminine - Italian for example,. common/neuter, etc).  Some languages have more than three, but then they aren't called "genders" anymore.  

    Gr. gender is about words (actual strings of letters/sounds) and not what they mean or represent.

    Physical sex is about the real world.

    Note: some people like to say English has gr. gender when it uses she/her to talk about a boat for example.  But it's still physical sex, just a figurative use, because it doesn't matter what word I use: boat, ship, vessel, craft, yacht, etc -all would still use she/her - in a figurative sense.

    If it were gr. gender, you could not choose she/her until the specific word was chosen. 

    Source(s): studied linguistics; taught French; intermediate Italian & German - these 3 all have gr. gender; intermediate Japanese (no gr. gender) native English speaker.
  • 10 months ago

    No one would call a man "cara" -- -that's the feminine form of the adjective and is used to describe a woman or a girl.

    A man is "caro mio."  He wouldn't call himself that; someone else would call him that.

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