gender of cities and island

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larshgf

Senior Member
Danish
Hello,

You come to Greece nad you want to tell your greek friends about your country. A problem appears:
The gender of cities and islands in Greece can be found by searching the net. But what about cities and islands in countries outside Greece.
What decides the gender?
The way the city/island is spelled?
Any difference between city and village?
Do we have a default gender of city/village/island?
(I guess that the capitals in different countries can be found in a dictionary)

Any advice will be much appreciated!

BR Lars
 
  • dmtrs

    Senior Member
    Greek
    I'm afraid it's a total mess, dear larshgf.
    When the names of places (including countries) have been 'Greekified' (or 'Hellenized', if you prefer) different genders are used, according to the adopted suffix:
    -Ο Καναδάς, η Ουγγαρία, η Δανία, το Βέλγιο... (Ι dare say countries tend to be feminine.)
    -H Ρώμη, η Κοπεγχάγη, η Νέα Υόρκη, το Λονδίνο, το Παρίσι... (Cities tend to be feminine, but a lot are neutral -can't think of a masculine foreign city name, but I'm not sure it does not exist.)
    -H Mαγιόρκα, η Σαχαλίνη, η Χαβάη, oι Εβρίδες, τα Κανάρια (Νησιά)... (Islands tend to be feminine because initially we would say "η [νήσος] Μαγιόρκα", "οι Εβρίδες [νήσοι]".)
    The countries and cities that retain their "foreign sounding" name and the villages (it is unlikely that a foreign village is so well known in Greece that it has been "Hellenized") are usually neutral:
    -Το Ζαΐρ, το Νεπάλ, το Πουέρτο Ρίκο, το Κονγκό... / το Βίλνιους, το Βλαδιβοστόκ, το Ρέικιαβικ, το Ριάντ... / το Γουίμπλεντον, το Χίθροου, το Κάνσας, το Σαν Σεμπαστιάν, το Λος Άντζελες...
    Some foreign names have suffixes that resemble those of Greek words, therefore they adopt their gender:
    -Η Κινσάσα, η Λάσα, η Τάλσα (or more commonly Τούλσα), η Κορέα...
    Τhe suffix -ville is traditionally connected to the feminine gender:
    -Η Ντοβίλ, η Μραζαβίλ, η Τρουβίλ... (but: το Νάσβιλ...)
    Good luck with this, dear friend...
     

    larshgf

    Senior Member
    Danish
    Allthough the rules are not strictly logical you have supplied som fine clues for me.
    So thank you so much dmtrs!
     

    sotos

    Senior Member
    Greek
    For some cities you can guess the gender if you know the ancient or modern latin name. e.g. Aquisgranum > Aachen > Το Άαχεν. (La) Roma > Η Ρώμη, Mediolanum > Το Μιλάνο.
     

    Helleno File

    Senior Member
    English - UK
    Thanks for another excellent question larshgf and your answer, dmtrs, is about as comprehensive and authoritative as anyone could imagine. :thumbsup: Possibly it should be copied into a grammar textbook!

    I'm afraid it's a total mess, dear larshgf.
    ...
    Good luck with this, dear friend...
    Oh dear, I hadn't realised it was as difficult as this! My Oxford English-Greek Learner's Dictionary has two helpful annexes (παραρτήματα) at the back listing country names/nationalities and Greek proper names including some toponyms. They are directed at Greek learners with emphasis on formation and pronounciation. I've just noticed that as with the rest of the dictionary Greek genders are not given. (A sore point with English learners but quite possibly difficult for Greeks too.)

    Place names in Greece are not straightforward either! Compare τα Τρίκαλα and τα Ιωάννινα with η Θήβα and η Λάρισα. On Kefalonia there are at least 20 villages with names ending in - άτα, Κουρκουμελάτα, Μαυράτα, Μεταξάτα etc etc. My Greek teacher was unsure whether they were feminine or neuter plural. I've now checked and they are n. pl. (I also suspect they are derived from family names.)

    I now understand why islands are mostly feminine. But of course οι Παξοί is masculine plural! :eek:
     

    dmtrs

    Senior Member
    Greek
    Good point, Άγγελε.
    This is because the word derives from the [masculine] Greek word 'Αρχάγγελος' (if it means 'higher rank angel", as I think it does).

    By the way in:
    -Η Ντοβίλ, η Μραζαβίλ, η Τρουβίλ... (but: το Νάσβιλ...)
    I meant:
    -Η Ντοβίλ, η Μπραζαβίλ, η Τρουβίλ... (but: το Νάσβιλ...)
     
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