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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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Case study 1: Two genders, three ns

Case study 1: Two genders, three ns

(p.72) 5 Case study 1: Two genders, three ns
The Morphosyntax of Gender

Ruth Kramer

Oxford University Press

This chapter starts to investigate the cross-linguistic predictions of the morphosyntactic analysis of gender developed for Amharic in Chapter 3. Chapter 3 proposed that Amharic contains a n that has an uninterpretable feminine gender feature. This chapter asks whether there are attested two-gender systems that lack uninterpretable gender features, and have only three ns: one used for male entities, one used for female entities, and one used for all unsexed entities. The chapter presents several examples of such gender systems: Dieri (Pama-Nyungan), which has a masculine default, and Zayse and Zargulla (Omotic), which have a feminine default. The analysis predicts there will be no language that has two genders and an “unsexed entity” default, and the chapter closes by showing that a putative counterexample (Lealao Chinantec; Otomanguean) is in fact a gender system based on animacy, and not on biological sex.

Keywords:   gender, morphology, syntax, natural gender, Dieri, Zayse, Zargulla, Lealao Chinantec, animacy

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