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Portuguese and Spanish:

tongue (can mean language as well): a língua portuguesa, la lengua española.

language is different, Portuguese is feminine, and Spanish is masculine: a linguaguem de programação, el lenguaje de programación.

idiom is masculine in both: o idioma português, el idioma español.




Apparently (according wiktionary) the reconstructed vulgar latin word of origin, *linguaticum, was neutral.

While learning the language I've noted that in Portuguese words ending in ~gem are generally feminine regardless of their gender in French:

un garage -> uma garagem

un langage -> uma linguagem

un abordage -> uma abordagem

un bagage -> uma bagagem

And many, many others. My point is that I'm guessing that the diference in gender here is purely morphological and not tied to the meaning of the word and whether it's semantically tied to masculine or feminine traits (I'm sure you already knew all of that but I also know that English speakers often have misconceptions regarding how genders work in Romance languages, so I thought I'd clear it up).


> Apparently (according wiktionary) the reconstructed vulgar latin word of origin, *linguaticum, was neutral.

When the transition from 3 gender to 2 happened, neuter words had to be "assigned" to one gender or another. Sometimes this was just arbitrary, other times conditioned by phonology or semantics.

The same phenomenon occurred when Sanskrit's 3 gender system gave way to the dual gender system of the new-Indo-Aryan languages like Hindi. In that case, most neuter words became masculine because they were often already phonologically similar to masculine words in the accusative case.


It never occurred to me that words ending in -gem in Portuguese were mostly feminine. Guess we don't pay much attention to these things regarding our native language.

I have misconceptions about other Romance languages as well. I often confuse genders when trying to speak French, last week I learned moustache is feminine, while in Portuguese and Spanish it's masculine.


Italian too, lingua (tongue in both senses) is feminine, even if language (as in programming language) is linguaggio and is masculine.




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