Spanish, Portugese, French, Italian and Romanian are the Romance languages, the daughter languages of Latin, and use a prescribed gender, known as grammatical gender
In German, which has been mentioned, the grammatical gender of a noun is determined by many factors, including the form (spelling) of the end of the noun, and cultural perception: things with motors, like cars, planes, etc. are generally masculine in gender, although motorcycles are feminine: der BMW
is a car; die BMW
is a motorcycle. Go figure.
So in German, "the" has three forms, each needing to match the grammatical gender of the noun: der = masculine; die = feminine, das = neuter. But grammatical gender can be a bit illogical at times: das fraulein
(the girl) is neuter, because the suffix -lein
makes a noun neuter.
English is a "borrowing language" that contains much vocabulary from Latin, French, and other languages, but is not related to them. It is a Germanic language, but unlike German uses what is known as natural gender
: things that are male (sex) have masculine gender; things that are female have feminine gender; things which have no sex (no jokes, please) are neuter in gender.
In English, "the" does the whole job (natural gender). The personal pronouns he/she/it follow natural (sexual) categories.
Referring to objects as "he" or "she" in a language with natural gender is simply a function of anthropomorphizing (seeing things in human terms: a function of the imagination and ability to think in the abstract), not the grammar. Things of beauty, speed, style and grace are typically thought of in feminine terms in English: the auto-pilot usually gets a masculine name if you're into that sort of thing; but the yacht herself is referred to in the feminine. Of course, this is a matter of style, so referring to the yacht as "it" breaks no grammatical rule
Still, it's sad to see Lloyd's choose PC over tradition.
more than you wanted to know…