13

Mozzarella has a typical feminine Italian/Latin ending (-a).

So is there a specific reason, why it is masculine in the German language? If so, could you please tell me?

  • 11
    Maybe because it is "der Käse"? – user6191 Jul 17 '14 at 19:31
  • @Carlster But Mozzarella is a name... – Armin Jul 17 '14 at 19:32
  • 10
    I was referring to a possible transformation from "der Mozzarella-Käse" to "der Mozzarella". – user6191 Jul 17 '14 at 19:34
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    related: german.stackexchange.com/questions/5545/… – Takkat Jul 17 '14 at 21:48
21

In German every cheese name is masculine: "der Parmesan", "der Mozzarella", "der Ricotta", "der Gouda", "der Camembert", and so on.

  • 11
    Well, it's a rule, but like all "rules" in linguistics, it's descriptive, not prescriptive: A linguistic rule describes what (the majority of) native speakers of a language consider as correct; it does not dictate what they have to consider as correct. – Uwe Jul 17 '14 at 19:54
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    Could you add the bit that "Käse" is masculine? I think that is the reason why this "rule" exists – Emanuel Jul 17 '14 at 21:08
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    It's the reason why the rule says "all cheeses are male" rather than "all cheeses are female", but it doesn't explain why there is a rule at all. There are categories of things for which there is such a rule (e.g., cheeses, alcoholic spirits), and others for which there is no rule (e.g., body parts, currencies, magazine titles). – Uwe Jul 18 '14 at 8:00
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    Well, the real reason the "rule" exists is, as you correctly said, that people chose to speak that way. And why did they do it? Probably because it is "der Käse" and they just stuck with the gender. The reason why there is no rule for other groups is that people use different genders for members of the group. – Emanuel Jul 18 '14 at 8:06
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    It is not male, it is masculine, that is: of masculine grammatical gender. Not at all the same thing. – fdb Jul 18 '14 at 9:03
4

The German language is not terribly rational when it comes to assigning gender to various objects. For instance, some parts of the human body are male and some are female, no matter what the overall person owning them is. You should read Mark Twain's essay The Awful German Language for a side-splitting take on this. I lent a copy to my German-born teacher, and it came back slightly damp; she had laughed until she cried.

Why is cheese male? Because!

  • I didn't mean cheese in general but a special cheese that has a name that should be female. – Armin Jul 17 '14 at 22:34
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    1) This case seems quite rational to me. 2) The "problem" with the body parts applies not only to German. – user6191 Jul 18 '14 at 6:26
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    Grammatical gender is not "rational" in any language. – fdb Jul 19 '14 at 10:05
  • Because cheese is made from the milk of male cows only. ;-) – Rudy Velthuis Mar 14 at 12:00

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