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HOW DID BAKTERIA BECOME FEMININE?


Polonius3 1,000 | 12,448  
18 Oct 2008 /  #1
Bakteria is the plural of bakterium just as gimnazja is the plural of gimnazum. How on earth and exactly when did bateria ever start being regarded as a singular feminine noun?
miranda  
18 Oct 2008 /  #2
another genius post from you. Don't you ever get tired of asking those questions of yours? If you are a journalist I sure hope that you write about something more important.

it is gimnazjum btw
miranda  
18 Oct 2008 /  #4
in latin it would be, I provided the Polish spelling BTW:)

Polonius's post is retarded
RubasznyRumcajs 5 | 468  
18 Oct 2008 /  #5
well... i see nothing retarded in that question. Changing of language, of meanings of words etc, are interesting (well, not for everyone ;p)

pozdro
Rumcajs
miranda  
18 Oct 2008 /  #6
pozdro
Rumcajs

asking why some nouns are masculine or feminine in different languages is a retarded question, especially when the origin of those nouns is in Latin language.

nie ma sprawy

Hanka
osiol 55 | 3,922  
18 Oct 2008 /  #7
asking why some nouns are masculine or feminine in different languages is a retarded question

No it's not. A retarded question would be something like "Why doesn't the sky fall down?" or "Why does fish go mouldy if I leave it out of the fridge for three weeks?"
miranda  
18 Oct 2008 /  #8
retarded question would be something

OK, scratch the "retarded" and replace it with unreasonable.
miranda  
18 Oct 2008 /  #10
well, read the first post.

I am not sure if he is asking about bacteria (latin) or bakteria (Polish) or bateria (Polish) :)
Lodz_The_Boat 32 | 1,535  
18 Oct 2008 /  #11
well, read the first post.

everything is relative...
Dice 15 | 452  
18 Oct 2008 /  #12
HOW DID BAKTERIA BECOME FEMININE?

She put on some lipstick!
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
18 Oct 2008 /  #13
virus [wirus] become masculine (also zarazek is masculine), so we needed some balance in the name of political correctness and equal rights.
HAL9009 2 | 304  
18 Oct 2008 /  #14
Ok, the scientific explanation, certain words in Polish, including foreign loanwords are "masculine" by nature but end in the letter a. As we all know words ending in a in Polish take "feminine" endings. Aren't grammar rules wonderful!
osiol 55 | 3,922  
18 Oct 2008 /  #15
certain words in Polish, including foreign loanwords are "masculine" by nature but end in the letter a

and now would be a good time to use a word coined from a feminine noun not ending with -a along with an accompanying adjective which does end with -a. Dobranoc!

Or is the night still young?
Next question!
Mojewina  
26 Oct 2008 /  #16
Singular. Plural.
Bakteria Bakterie
Gimnazjum Gimnazja
Bateria Baterie

Bakteria is singular feminine not bakterium
Switezianka - | 463  
26 Oct 2008 /  #17
A good question. I can't see anything stupid about it.

My hypothesis:
Bacteria usually occur in big colonies, so people rarely talk about one bacterium. Only the plural form was in frequent use and speakers unaware of its singular form started confusing the plural form with the singular one (Polish speakers often use Latin words and expressions incorrectly, so there's nothing surprizig about it). Such usage has become very widespread, so bacteria has become the singular form through the usage, and because it ends with "a", it is feminine.

Just a hypothesis but it seems very probable to me.
Krzysztof 2 | 973  
27 Oct 2008 /  #18
A good question. I can't see anything stupid about it.

The stupid thing is that "normal" language users (and especially foreign learners of Polish) can't analyse each word with the case-by-case method. It won't do any good, because there are too many words in Polish (or any language).

It's just a job for professional linguists who don't have more interestings things to do (/joke).
Other stupid thing is that the original poster could have some research on ethymology by himself instead of asking us at the PFs.

BTW, it's not bacterium, the word (at least according to PWN Encyclopedia) comes from Greek:
bakterie [gr. bakterion ‘laseczka’]
And according to Wiki:
Bacteria were first observed by Antonie van Leeuwenhoek in 1676, using a single-lens microscope of his own design.[10] He called them "animalcules" and published his observations in a series of letters to the Royal Society. The name bacterium was introduced much later, by Christian Gottfried Ehrenberg in 1838, and is derived from the Greek word - , bacterion -a , meaning "small staff"

This word didn't follow the normal evolution of Latin words borrowed by the Polish language, like gymnasium (also from Greek "gymnásion"), because it was implemented artificially at a certain point of time.

speakers unaware of its singular form started confusing the plural form with the singular one (Polish speakers often use Latin words and expressions incorrectly, so there's nothing surprizig about it). Such usage has become very widespread, so bacteria has become the singular form through the usage, and because it ends with "a", it is feminine.

I don't agree with that, I rather assume that:
1/ the word bacterium was first known to scientists, who were aware of the Latin forms (because the Latin was much needed for a scientist even a hundred years ago).

2/ in German: die Bakterie (feminine), pl. Bakterien
I guess it was rather German language publications that were the main source of the knowledge about bacteria for Polish scientists, and they adapted the germanized feminie version, which sounds more natural to the Polish ear (because all those Latin words ending in -um/-ium aren't exactly easy in declension as the ending is untypical for the Polish language).
Marek 4 | 867  
27 Oct 2008 /  #19
I too find the original poster's query definitely grounds for investigation, considering that all languages with gender, including Polish, reveal numerous inconsistencies, often baffling and/or tough to explain for native speakers.

Sometimes too, nouns will even change their gender over time (and I don't even mean homonyms with the identical spelling and pronunciation, but different meaning) due to any number of reasons.

Only wish I could think of some examples--:)
Patrycja19 63 | 2,700  
27 Oct 2008 /  #20
when did bateria ever start being regarded as a singular feminine noun?

when was it ever a real male to begin with?? LOL :)
Marek 4 | 867  
28 Oct 2008 /  #21
Krzysztof's point is well taken, I think! Though not by any means yet, if ever, even a near perfect Polish speaker, German is practically my first language, and the German 'Bakterie', much as their word 'Materie' (physical rather than, say, academic/intellectual) 'material', also purely Latin-based of course, has no feminine 'a'-ending either in German, as with many foreign imports. Their gender however IS always feminine-:)

Polish has numerous masculine words with feminine-looking 'a-endings' which frequently fooled me when I started learning the language, such as 'mężczyzna', 'kolega', etc....
Switezianka - | 463  
28 Oct 2008 /  #22
Funny, I looked up this word in a dictionary, and the source-words given are: Fr. bacterie, from Gr. bakteria. So, it seems Polish form is just the same as Greek.
plk123 8 | 4,150  
28 Oct 2008 /  #23
How on earth and exactly when did bateria ever start being regarded as a singular feminine noun?

it's the 'a' and it has always been so. :D

She put on some lipstick!

no, that was the pit bull. :D

Polonius's post is retarded

damn, we agree once again. :D

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