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Gender and Noun Classification$
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Éric Mathieu, Myriam Dali, and Gita Zareikar

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198828105

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198828105.001.0001

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A novel kind of gender syncretism

A novel kind of gender syncretism

Chapter:
(p.159) 8 A novel kind of gender syncretism
Source:
Gender and Noun Classification
Author(s):

Ruth Kramer

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198828105.003.0008

Cross-linguistically, gender is often syncretic in the plural, that is, plural forms typically do not make gender distinctions. However, Chapter 8 focuses on a little-studied type of syncretism where ‘plural’ agreement is syncretic with the singular agreement associated with a particular gender. Specifically, plural masculine and feminine nouns alike trigger the agreement patterns of masculine singular nouns. Using data from Maay, Amharic, and Haro, an analysis of this syncretism is developed in Distributed Morphology and evidence is provided against an alternative analysis in which these plural nouns would have masculine gender in the syntax. Since Distributed Morphology makes restrictive predictions about possible syncretisms, it is shown how it is a positive result that it predicts exactly this type of syncretism. Overall, the chapter advances our understanding of gender and number by analysing a novel gender-number syncretism and presents a case study of how to distinguish morphological and syntactic effects.

Keywords:   gender, number, plural, syncretism, Distributed Morphology, Maay, Amharic, Haro, morphology, syntax

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