Pythonistas? <- Re: OT: Perl programmers?

David S. de Lis excalibor at
Fri Feb 15 21:02:51 CET 2002

Hi there,

kkeller at (Keith Keller) wrote in message news:<pu6e4a.5ti.ln at>...
> In article <slrna6kkpj.is0.tim at>,
> 	Tim Hammerquist <tim at> writes:
> > IIRC, "agua" _is_ feminine, but takes the masculine article when
> > singular. Mi diccionario dice que "agua" es feminina, también.
> > 
> > OTOH, la palabra "mar" es masculina _y_ feminina. Por ejemplo:
> > 
> >     "el agua en la mar"     # Correct
> >     "las aguas del mar"     # Correct

'Agua' is a feminine word in spanish, as it is in latin, where spanish
evolved from.

The reason the male definite article is used with 'agua' is just for
phonetic reasons, to avoid a cacophonic (i.e. bad sounding) phrasing:

'la agua' -> 'la_agua' -> 'l\'agua'   which sounds horrible in spanish
(thoug it *is* said in certain 'subcultural environments').

'el agua' breaks the cacophony...

The plural, however, doesn't follow the exception, because articles
follow gramatically gender and number of their nouns, thus 'las

It's just the same with 'aguila' (eagle) and most short (one or two
syllabes) words that start with a-... ('aguila' has 3, of course...)

eg. 'el alma' (the soul) but 'las almas' against 'la arena' (the

While there are many theories, a particular school of thought in Spain
and other spanish-speaking countries consider the definite article as
an intrinsic part of the noun, not as an auxiliar adverbial form.
Effectively, definite articles are never found as language independent
units in spanish, only attached to a noun, so it makes lots of sense.
For many gender-independent words, like the ones ending in -ista we
are talking about in this thread, it is the article the one who
signals the gender. (eg. el pianista, la pianista (piano player, male
and female resp.)

Others, like 'doctor', 'médico', 'juez', etc which are all masculine,
are being counterattacked with their perfectly legal feminine forms
(doctora, médica, jueza, etc...) as women are socially allowed and
visible in those positions...

Another interesting word, and so signaled, used in the examples above
is 'mar' (sea), which is a masculine word but enjoys both genders in
the singular form: 'el mar' but also 'la mar'. While the latter is
considered a poetic form, it is widely used in many parts of south
Spain and America... It's always 'los mares' (the seas) however...
('las aguas de la mar', the waters of the sea)... being a monosylabic
word, having both genders allowed, among other things, to adjust the
metric of a verse by using the contracted of + the (de + el -> del)
masculine form or the uncontractable feminine 'de la'... This is also
found in other monosyllabic words (eg. 'el sal'* (the salt) incorrect
but used, comes to my mind... also, gender inversion is not uncommon
in the south of Spain...

And another interesting case that comes to my mind: 'cometa'. The
feminine form (la cometa, pl. las cometas) refers to a kite, while the
masculine (el cometa, pl. los cometas) refers to a comet. That's
polymorphism depending on the context, I guess ;-)

> Es mas malo que Perl!  ;-)

ahem... :)

and back to the original question, I've seen and used JAPH, perler,
perlite and other variations... there's more than one way to call
oneself... ;-)


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