Jayeless.net

neuter gender in Romance languages

While Latin maintained a three-way distinction between masculine, feminine and neuter genders, most of its descendent Romance languages have lost part of this distinction, instead exhibiting a two-way masculine/feminine distinction. However, not all the languages have lost it: the Eastern Romance family is best-known for retaining the neuter gender, Astur-Leonese has also retained the distinction for adjectives, and a number of Italo-Dalmatian dialects have not only retained the neuter gender but, in some cases, split that into two neuter genders.

In Eastern Romance, the neuter gender could alternatively be thought of as an alternating gender: neuter words look masculine in the singular (and take masculine adjectives, etc.) but look feminine in the plural (and take feminine adjectives). Standard Italian has also retained a class of words that act this way, but as the list of words included is fairly short, and the class is closed (i.e. no new words can join this class), Italian is generally not described as having a neuter gender. It kind of does, though, or at least this bunch of “weird words” descends directly from the Latin neuter gender.

However, a few other Italo-Dalmatian languages have retained the neuter gender as a productive class (meaning new words can be assigned to it), and not only that but split it into two genders: an alternating neuter, like Italian and Romanian, and an “abstract neuter” for uncountable, mass nouns. See this link post for more.