On Tue, 29 Oct 2002, Burke, Edward wrote:
> Speaking of gender-neutral What about 'Fatherland' and 'Motherland' to which
> many peoples of different countries offer their allegience. 'Parentland', or
> more appropriately in keeping with modern trends, 'OneParentland', just
> doesn't have the same ring either. Would be interested to know what gender
> is applied to the home countries of the various members of this List.
> Ireland is referred to as a 'Motherland'. Germany AFAIK is a 'Fatherland',
> but how does one ascribe gender to a country? Is it due to the name being
> masculine or feminine and if so what makes this so?
In Portuguese we call it 'pátria', which comes from Latin
'pater', father. But the word 'pátria' itself is feminine. The
same applies to other Romance languages. It has nothing to do,
BTW, with the "gender" of the country. Curiously, though
Portuguese does not have a neutral gender, the only case of
genderless nouns that occur to me now is the name of certain
countries. So, for instance, Brazil is masculine ("o Brasil"),
France is feminine ("a França"), but Portugal is genderless and
does not take an article. Now, this is Brazilian Portuguese: in
Portugal you omit the article with many feminine country names.