The connections between noun gender and architecture

A quick one this time. I have a keen interest in how the words we use shape traits of our personality, so this news eluded me. Some countries have gender for inanimate objects. And, in some cases, the gender for the same object changes from country to country. The words bridge, clock, apartment, fork are feminine in German and masculine in Spanish, for example.

“On average, the nouns that are masculine in German but feminine is Spanish (chairs and keys, for example) got higher marks for strength from the Germans, whereas bridges and clocks, which are masculine in Spanish but feminine in German, were judged stronger on average by Spanish speakers.” Even when communicating in English in another experiment “German speakers tended to describe bridges as beautiful, elegant, fragile, peaceful, pretty, and slender; Spanish speakers as big, dangerous, long, strong, sturdy, towering.”

Sally Augustin, PhD, Psychology Today

So just imagine: a bridge designed in countries where the noun has a masculine gender might have a more masculine, rugged look. Exactly the opposite if the bridge design would be made in a country like Germany, where the word bridge is feminine in gender.


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