Substantiva communia in colloquial language and dialects

Ona Laima Gudzinevičiūtė

Keywords: noun gender category, substantiva communia, pejorative meaning, context, dialects, usage.
The Lithuanian language has nouns called substantiva communia which do not posses the sense of sex though they denominate a person. These are nouns of more general meaning which can be used to nominate the persons of both male and female sex. In terms of form some of the nouns are of masculine gender, others are of feminine gender. In grammars the gender essence is described correctly, though there are still discussions on the name. Gender of the above mentioned nouns is possible to be determined only through the context. In some texts they are nouns of masculine gender, in other texts they are nouns of feminine gender. From the matched words it may be seen to which person (i.e. to the person of which sex) this evaluation belongs.
Substantiva communia denominates and at the same time describes a person or an animal according to his character and other features. The distinctive feature of substantiva communia is their usage in pejorative meaning. Due to their expressiveness substantiva communia are mostly words of colloquial speech and dialects. In modern speech usage margins of colloquialisms and dialect words are mixed. This is subject to particularity of the analysed substantiva communia class as well as to other factors.
In the usage of substantiva communia descriptional expression is more important than gender expression.