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Non-Canonical Gender Systems$
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Sebastian Fedden, Jenny Audring, and Greville G. Corbett

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198795438

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198795438.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2021

Beyond the classifier/gender dichotomy

Beyond the classifier/gender dichotomy

The role of flexibility in a more integrated typology of nominal classification

(p.100) 5 Beyond the classifier/gender dichotomy
Non-Canonical Gender Systems

Ruth Singer

Oxford University Press

The entrenched nature of the gender/classifier dichotomy stands in the way of better typologies of nominal classification. How can we move beyond it to a more integrated view of nominal classification? Looking at a range of kinds of data from the Australian language Mawng, it is clear that our understanding of many less well-known nominal classification systems reflects a lack of data on how the system is used. Mawng has what seems like a well-behaved system of five genders, including gender agreement in the verb. However, the genders, like classifiers, play a crucial role in constructing meaning in discourse, often in the absence of nouns. Nominal classification systems must be contextualized in terms of their roles in constructing meaning in discourse, in order to do them justice in typologies. Greater emphasis on the flexibility of nominal classification systems and less on the role of nouns will also move efforts forward.

Keywords:   Australian Aboriginal languages, classifiers, gender, nominal classification, agreement, discourse, variation, dictionaries

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