The article shows that during the forming of grammatical category of gender in Indo-European languages, names of non-living objects and names of those animals whose sex is unimportant for humans were receiving grammatical meanings of gender on the basis of similarity or dissimilarity of designated objects with males or females. Such grammatical metaphors were based on the ideas of different peoples about some minor characteristics of persons of different sex, such as the difference between men and women with higher activity, greater size, strength and independence. By now, the metaphorical motivation of category of gender in the Russian language has survived only in certain nouns. These nouns are interrogative pronouns кто (masc.) ʻwhoʼ and что (neut.) ʻwhatʼ, paired nouns-synonyms, e. g. конь (masc.) ʻstrong horseʼ – лошадь (fem.) ʻordinary horseʼ, generic versions of nouns, e. g. ворон (masc.) ʻravenʼ – ворона (fem.) ʻcrowʼ, and nouns-occasionalisms used in speech oriented to expressiveness and creativity.
This article looks at the semantic space of abstract and concrete concepts from the perspective of distributed models of conceptual representations. It focuses on abstract metaphorical classes and the mechanisms through which these concepts are processed. When the metaphor X is a Y is understood, X is included in the abstract metaphorical class of Y. This metaphorical class is abstract because the most of semantic features of Y are filtered out through a suppressiveoriented mode of processing. It is suggested that abstract metaphorical classes of living things are usually defined by a single or a very small set of semantic features. Therefore, such metaphorical classes are highly abstract. On the other hand, abstract metaphorical classes of nonliving things are defined by a relatively larger cluster of semantic features. Therefore, abstract metaphorical classes of nonliving things have a relatively higher degree of concreteness compared to those of living things. In other words, abstract metaphorical classes of living things and nonliving things are rather different in terms of nature and the structure of semantic space.