Thank you, Setanta, helpful as always. I really like the explanation that "If the it he were giving were feminine, then donné becomes donnée. If it were feminine and plural, it becomes données." Very nice and to the English speaker (me) it seems highly complex. It's not, I know, but compared to English which is nearly naked of such sexing of words and grammar, 'tis. ***
Most of the ones we do have we stole from the French. (masseur,masseuse; actor, actress; comedian, comedienne [actually, I haven't seen comedienne in print for about fifteen years, have you?]) Then there are the ones which only seem sexed: Seamstress, and er, seamster? no...tailor. Except when The Birds sang "My mother was a tailor, she sewed those old blue jeans...."
But it's the grammar that is interesting to me. Don't you find it fascinating that we went from "The woman she comes herself now the house inside." which we were using in Old English to "The woman came inside the house." ?? What a road we've traveled.
I'm particularly interested in how English, written English, is changing due to the Internet and boards like this one. Setanta says "Alas" regarding the French making changes, but there has never been a language which didn't change. Despite all the efforts of the Correct English Brigades, the language continues to reshape itself with the elasticity of Silly Putty, including its ability to pick up words from other (comics) pages.
There are some battles going on now, I'm sure, over whether it is proper to use IMO or RU in an office memo. Ten years from now, no one will notice as long as the meaning is clear.
And will there still be a lag between how we speak and how we write? We always clean up the little shortcuts we use in common speech when we put what we want to say on paper (or the screen.), which is why, although thousands of people speak 'Na'Orlins' putting that grammar on the page would be a wholenuther thing.
Joe(Viewpoint and Standpoint were once considered improper words.)Nation
*** Grammar Police Alert: They would have this as ""If the it he WAS giving were feminine, then donné becomes donnée. If it WAS feminine and plural, it becomes données." They also don't like "I wish I were an Oscar Meyer Weiner".