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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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Linguistic Gender and its expression

Linguistic Gender and its expression

(p.13) 2 Linguistic Gender and its expression
How Gender Shapes the World

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

Oxford University Press

Many languages of the world have a gender system in their grammar. There are two genders in French, three in German, four in Dyirbal (from North Queensland), more elsewhere. We seldom find an exact correspondence between masculine/feminine and male/female sex. In German most nouns referring to females are feminine but Mädchen ‘girl’ is in neuter gender (because it contains the diminutive suffix -chen which is always neuter). Gender choice (or assignment) can be more or less semantically transparent or opaque. There is always some semantic basis to Linguistic Gender choice but languages vary as to how much semantic choice there is. Gender assignment can also involve morphological and phonological features of nouns. Gender may be distinguished in personal pronouns only, as in English, or through derivational affixes (as in many Uralic languages). This chapter focuses on a cross-linguistic typology of gender, its meanings, and its expression.

Keywords:   Linguistic Gender, agreement, masculine, feminine, neuter, noun class, number, semantics, gender assignment, functional markedness, formal markedness

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