Gendered Nouns

The Vowel Chart & Gender
Feminine Neutral Masculine
i O u
E e o
A U a
Neutral
y
fig. 1

The Kryptonian language reflects natural gender in words through the use of its vowels. Please note that this gender is not word classification like you find in languages such as Spanish or German where all nouns carry a "gender", but, rather, Kryptonian word gender only affects nouns that describe an object that actually has (or implies, e.g. an android) a natural gender.

The gender of a gendered noun is determined by the first vowel of the word. The vowel may be "shifted" left or right on the vowel chart to change the gender of the word (fig. 1). For example, /aonah/ (offspring) can become /inah/ (daughter) or /unah/ (son). Dictionaries list gendered nouns in the neutral form with the gender-indicative vowel underlined.

Formal speech defers to the neutral gender whenever possible, while the gender-indicative forms are usually reserved for familiar speech. However, gender may be indicated in formal speech when it is needed for clarity—usually in 3rd person contexts or when speaking to more than one person. This formality applies in both directions in the social heirarchy, i.e., an underling would not use gendered speech with his superior nor vice versa.

The raised e vowel, y is considered to be a gender-neutral vowel, but should not be treated the same as the other vowels. y carries with it not so much a sense of gender-neutrailty as it does gender- all-inclusiveness. In gendered words, it is very uncommon (and less socially acceptable) to shift this vowel to a single-gendered entity (/e/ or /o/ ). This vowel can also be seen in some non-gendered words that may have carried gender in their original form, e.g., ZRyGRas (city). This is evidenced by the fact that some of these words can be found in older texts, usually poetic in nature, in a gender-specific form, e.g., Kor-Fehn's epic poem, ZRoGRas, universally translated to "City of Men."

For examples of gendered speech, please see the Honorifics page.

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