Ancient Greek and Latin, the languages that I teach, both have nouns in three genders, masculine, feminine and neuter. Neuter comes from the Latin words ne, “not,” and uter, “one of two” or “one or the other.” To be “neuter” in gender means that a word is “not one or the other,” i.e., not masculine or feminine; the neuter personal pronoun id is translated as “it.”
Ancient Greek and Latin’s use of the neuter gender suggest that other societies — ancient societies, at that — have conceived of another gender besides “male” and “female.” Indeed, classical mythology has more than a few figures who are both genders including the seer Tiresias (originally a man, he is turned into a woman by the goddess Hera and then back into a man) and Hermaphroditus, who comes to be after a nymph and a young man are, literally, fused together (the story is in Book 4 of the the Roman poet Ovid’s Metamorphoses). As the transgender movement and the new P.G.P.’s show, there are genders besides “male” and “female” that one can be.
Related Care2 Coverage
Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may
not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.