Date of Award
Modern English only uses gender in personal, reflexive, and possessive third person singular pronouns. Modern English also does not use gendered articles, which extends to not assigning an arbitrary gender to inanimate objects. This study examines how recent this aspect of grammar is, and to what degree did cultural interaction with the French throughout history influence the use of gendered pronouns. Two written texts in British English (one in Old English, one in Modern English) and one written text in French are analyzed for elements of grammatical gender embedded within articles, pronouns, and possessive adjectives. The geopolitical influences on incorporating gender into language were also considered. This study found that gender is altogether more present in Old English and Modern French. Old English is found to have more gendered articles and pronouns than other later evolutions of English. Interactions between Norman pirates and Celtic Britons up through French words being fashionably borrowed by English nobles are evidence of geopolitical and international relations impacting the evolution of the English language.
Wilkes, Colleen, "Say "Oui" to "We": A Longitudinal Analysis of Pronouns and Articles in French and English" (2019). Undergraduate Honors Thesis Collection. 471.