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Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume IIMorphological, Syntactic, and Typological Change$
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D. Gary Miller

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780199583430

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583430.001.0001

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The Feminine Gender in Indo‐European

The Feminine Gender in Indo‐European

Chapter:
(p.122) 5 The Feminine Gender in Indo‐European
Source:
Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume II
Author(s):

D. Gary Miller (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583430.003.0006

Cultural input in inflection is expected because (i) syntax is projected from the lexicon and (ii) the lexicon is the interface between the grammar and the culture which shapes the lexicon. Gender systems constitute a minority type of classifier that occur in clusters of adjacent or nearby languages. Parallels for the irradiation of gender from a single word to other words of the same semantic or mythic content suggest a solution for the origin of the feminine gender in Indo‐European. The older common gender : neuter system split in such a way that the collective became feminine by irradiation and the old common gender form became masculine by opposition. This occurred first on *‐o‐ stem nouns and adjectives and gradually spread to other nouns and pronouns by way of an agreement system.

Keywords:   lexicon, gender systems, Indo‐European, irradiation

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