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How Gender Shapes the World$
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Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723752

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723752.001.0001

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Round women and long men: physical properties in Linguistic Gender

Round women and long men: physical properties in Linguistic Gender

(p.33) 3 Round women and long men: physical properties in Linguistic Gender
How Gender Shapes the World

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

Oxford University Press

The physical features of a referent—their shape, and size—may play a role in the choice of the Linguistic Gender, and correlate with features of their Natural and Social Genders. Recurrent correlations between shape, size, and Linguistic Gender choice are a feature of Cantabrian and a few other varieties of Spanish, of languages of the Sepik region of Papua New Guinea, and many languages in East Africa. Further semantic correlates of gender assignment include the roles of referents in myths, and salient properties correlating with the societal status of Social Gender (especially relevant for Linguistic Gender choice, and Linguistic Gender switches, for humans). Linguistic Gender choice for inanimates may be dictated by specific features associated with the idea of femininity or masculinity. Value and importance can be assigned to nouns of masculine Linguistic Gender.

Keywords:   Linguistic Gender, shape, masculine, feminine, value, languages of New Guinea, Spanish, Amharic, Cushitic languages, Omotic languages

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