Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankgiving Special: What gender is that turkey in your oven?

Learning the genders of nouns (objects) in French has been driving me fou. There are a few rules (nouns that end in -age and  -eau are usually masculine, those in -ion usually feminine) but when it comes to the gender of animals, it's a downright zoo.

Take, for example a chicken. Lays eggs, so much be ...wrong-o! It's a male - un poulet. Thank goodness a cock, at least (that is, a rooster) is a male -- un coq. But when it comes to most animals, you need to hazard a peek under the tail to figure it out. A cat is either un chat or une chatte; a dog un chien or une chienne -- wait a second, do I detect a pattern here? -- to derive the feminine, just repeat the final consonant and add an e? That's not so hard.

Not so fast, chérie! In the spirit of the season, consider the turkey. A male turkey is un dindon. But a female turkey is not une dindonne (nice try), but une dinde. By the time it ends up stuffed and in your oven, your guess is as good as mine. Just enjoy it.

Happy Thanksgiving, tout le monde!

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