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The Morphosyntax of Gender$
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Ruth Kramer

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199679935

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199679935.001.0001

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The Amharic gender system and previous approaches to gender

The Amharic gender system and previous approaches to gender

(p.14) 2 The Amharic gender system and previous approaches to gender
The Morphosyntax of Gender

Ruth Kramer

Oxford University Press

This chapter provides a thorough description of the gender system of Amharic (Ethiosemitic), and then shows how it is difficult to account for in previous approaches to the morphology and syntax of gender. Amharic has two genders: masculine and feminine. Its gender system relies heavily on natural gender (i.e. biological sex)—all animate entities have the gender associated with their biological sex. The default gender is masculine, although a handful of animal-referring nouns have feminine-default gender. Since the Amharic gender system depends largely on natural gender for animates, it is not well analyzed under previous analyses that do not address natural gender. Previous approaches that do in fact address natural gender struggle in accounting for the exceptional feminine default animal nouns. Finally, arguments are presented against having gender be a feature on category-neutral roots—for both empirical and theory-internal reasons.

Keywords:   gender, morphology, syntax, Amharic, default gender, natural gender, roots, nominalization

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