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 A Contrastive Analysis Between English and Kurdish Languages In Regard to Grammatical Gender
 Received from Dana Kadir - Australia
  University Projects - Kurdish Students
All Rights reserved.



Degree of Master of Arts TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)
University Of Western Sydney-Sydney/Australia

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Dana Kadir All Rights reserved 2005 Download the complete project in MS Word format 30 KB Zipped


The major focus of this research is the investigation of the contrast between the English language and the Kurdish language in regard to Grammatical Gender. In my research, I will include the following, such as the aim, the purpose of the research, research questions, the definition of some terms, background of the literature that I have read, and discuss the differences. The methodology that I have used in my research, analyse the data and use quantitive research method. Finally, the results and the findings, and the conclusion of the research.
The major focus of this research is the investigation of the use of grammatical gender between the English and the Kurdish languages. Which one of the two languages does use more grammatical gender than the other one?

The purpose of my research is to find out the use of grammatical genders in both languages. I believe different cultural backgrounds and different value systems underlie the speakers’ linguistic performance (Beal, 1994, p.56).
Here the variation between English and Kurdish grammatical gender is very significant in this research.

The variation between English and Kurdish grammatical gender is very significant in this research. In addition, I asked the following questions to be answered.

What is grammar?
Grammar is a rule of a language which describes how its words are made up to form sentences (Macquarie University, 1997, p. 387).

What is grammatical gender?
Grammatical genders, are also called (noun classes), they are classes of nouns which are reflected in the behaviour of related words, every noun belongs to one of the classes. For example, Indo-European languages have 1-3 noun classes that are called grammatical genders instead of noun classes. Indo-European and other language families are believed by its proponents to have human, animal and object as grammatical genders. For example, in Spanish, the word (hijo) (son) is masculine and (hija) daughter is feminine. It is called (natural gender) or logical gender (Encyclopaedia, 2005, p.7).

What is gender?
Gender is “the grammar of some languages, certain words and forms belonging to a specific gender. For example, masculine and feminine in French; masculine, feminine and neuter in German; common and neuter in Dutch” (Macquarie University, 1997, p. 372).
“Gender is a grammatical term, and has no real connection with sex. It was only just later that it became used as a synonym for sex (Arnie, 2003-4, p.4)

What is biological gender?
Biological gender refers to sex, such as male or female (Harry, 2000, p.1).

What does masculine mean?
Masculine, is related with maleness (Harry, 2000, p.3).

What are feminine genders?
Feminine is linked with femaleness. According to Gershaw men are seen as having competence feature while women are more expressive than men (Gershaw, 1995, p.1).

What is the effect of culture on masculine and feminine?
I believe that culture is the main factor that has an effect on masculine and feminine genders in any language. For example, in German, nouns end in –ug which corresponds to ing in English, are feminine, and car brand names are masculine.
Words end in –lein and –chen, their meanings are (smaller, younger) neuter.
Another example, the ancient Romans believed the Sun is masculine and the Moon is feminine. French, Spanish and Italian have the same idea in regard to the Sun and the Moon. For example, the Spanish word (luna) (moon). (Harry, 2000, p.4). But Germans believe is vice versa about the Sun and the Moon (Encyclopaedia, 2005, p-8).
I will talk about these variations in detail in the background of literature.
The differences between the Kurdish and English languages in terms of using grammatical gender and which one of the two languages uses more grammatical gender nouns than the other.

This literature under the name of Evolution of Gender in Indo-European Languages is related to the topic, that I will analyse on the light of my other literature. Boroditsky and Schmidt tested 84 common nouns in 14 Indo-European languages, plus English. The nouns were chosen as the following, 20 words artefacts, 22 words natural objects, 20 words abstract ideas, and 22 words animals. (See appendix 1).

During the investigation of the research, I looked at the data that the researcher had used, to make sure was accurate and valid, but unfortunately, the researcher of the literature, did not speak the Kurdish language, so he used the following data and identified them as an opposite grammatical gender nouns and changed masculine to feminine and vice versa by mistake. (See appendix 1).
1. Knife is a masculine noun in Kurdish, it is not a feminine.
2. Pistol is masculine.
3. Hammer is a masculine noun in Kurdish but the researcher, even did not mention it at all.
4. Key is a masculine.
5. Hat is a masculine noun and usually men wear them.
6. Gold is a feminine in Kurdish and it is not masculine.
7. Lion is a masculine noun in Kurdish but the researcher did not mention it
8. Fox is a feminine.

The researchers (Boroditsky and Schmidt) investigated whether “the grammatical genders do in part reflect the properties of their referents” (Boroditsky and Schmidt, 2000, p.2) cited in Harry, 2000, p.1). Their comparison of genders between Spanish and German produced a correlation coefficient of r = 0.21, p< 0.05. They termed this an “appreciable agreement”. But Harry the researcher and author of this literature criticised this correlation and says this figure, a value of r = 021 indicates disagreement rather than appreciable agreement. The two languages are agreed more on the genders of animals (r = 039, p< 0.1), than on the genders of artefacts which is (r = 010, p < .035)” (Harry, 2000, p.2).

The results of their study suggested the closer languages are in the family tree, the more they agree on gender nouns the more grammatical gender nouns are used. For example, Portuguese and Spanish languages show a coefficient of determination r2 = .075 (Harry, 2000, p.2).

(R2): (“a measure of how well the independent variable in a simple linear regression can explain changes in the dependent variable, its value is between zero (0) meaning poor fit and (1) meaning perfect fit”) Clark, 1985, p.452).

English and Kurdish for example have a very low correlation because it is not from the same sub family and in addition the English language is monolingual language.

Monolingual means “able to speak only one language and written in one language only”. Whereas the Persian language and the Afghani (Dari/Pshtu) languages come from the same sub family, which means the correlation is much higher, than the correlation between the English and the Kurdish language. The more similar the languages, the higher the correlation. The more distant the languages the lower the correlation.

English native speakers thought the gender of nouns shows a correspondence with the task of gender in other Indo-European languages. In order to test the prediction the researches asked 20 native Americans of English speakers, (10 males and 10 females), to assign a gender either masculine or feminine. The result suggests consistency among them. Especially for words that have a natural relation with maleness and power, for example, hammer, boulder, attack and war, or with femaleness and beauty, for example, flower, happiness, love and butterfly. The average assignments of genders by English speakers form a 15th population. It was compared to the 14 studied languages to determine the degree of correlation. Look at appendix (2). The table shows the values of r2 for each case (Harry, 2000, p.3-4).

The investigation suggested that the opinion of the native English speakers on gender was very weak correlation with each of the 14 languages, except Kurdish, which can attribute to statistical error. (Harry, 2000, p.3)



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