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tl;dr history and it makes things clear what goes where
In ancient times the old languages that French, English, German, Gypsy, Greek, Armenian, Irish, Russian, Farsi, etc spoke with a very free word order. They could put the action before the doer or the done-to after, depending on what they needed to emphasize, sometimes leaving out parts that didn't need to be said. That was only enabled by having word endings, In English today you can't say "the mouse caught the cat", you have to say "the cat caught <i>the mouse</i>" while changing pitch and tone etc for the emphasis or else you imply that the mouse was the doer and not the done-to.
But there was another reason for those word endings: the basic word order. When they weren't moving things around for emphasis, it usually meant that a normal way of saying something was "doer done-to action". But that put 2 nouns on the same side of the sentence, so to keep things clear and ordered they'd have to talk like "thing(doer) thing(done-to) verb". And it wasn't that bad to talk that way: there's an abstract logical reason that makes it very easy to order arguments that way - if our math worked that way, for example, we wouldn't need order of operations. Plus it was only usually 1 sound, not a whole word, attached to the end (eg Cattus muscam capit, where Catt- is a stem and -us is an ending, where musc- is a stem, and -am is an ending).
Originally there were no genders, but certain things never found themselves in the doer role, because of usually real reasons like pots don't do things or rocks or so on. When the languages changed a bit they reinterpreted a lot of do-nothing things as looking like done-tos even in the doer role of sentence; even though rocks don't do things maybe a spirit possessed one and caused it to, right - but whats the doer form? Everyone forgot.
This was the first set of genders - animate and inanimate. Animate things were people, some animals, and other things that did things, inanimate things were things that didn't do things, like rocks, tools, or sometimes plants or other similar stuff.
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