Linguistics can assist; in particular, try to find articles or papers from Linguistics.
gender French nouns into Google, which then revealed this (dubious) website, but which referenced this extremely informative and revealing study:
- Predictability in French gender attribution: A corpus analysis (PDF here)
Roy Lyster |
2006/3/1 | Journal of French Language Studies, Volume
Cambridge University Press
Helpfully, Google Scholars lists (50, as of 2016/1/24) Citations at the bottom of the webpage; so ensure to consult these other Citations + the references listed at the end of each resource.
At 24 pages, 1 is too long to reproduce here, but the following quote (from its Abstract (on p 1)) should already convince you of its helpfulness and motivate you to read it:
The analysis classified noun endings as reliably
masculine, reliably feminine, or ambiguous, by considering as reliable predictors
of grammatical gender any noun ending that predicts the gender of least 90 per
cent of all nouns in the corpus with that ending. Results reveal that 81 per cent of
all feminine nouns and 80 per cent of all masculine nouns in the corpus are rule
governed, having endings that systematically predict their gender. These findings,
at odds with traditional grammars, are discussed in terms of their pedagogical
I then Googled genders in french semantics which revealed other resources:
- French gender assignment revisited, WORD, 56:1,
- Le Ou La?: The Gender of French Nouns (1995) by Marie Surridge.
However, notice that 3 is already referenced on page 24 (of 24) of 1 above.