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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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Multiple facets of constructional Arabic gender and ‘functional universalism’ in the DP

Multiple facets of constructional Arabic gender and ‘functional universalism’ in the DP

(p.67) 4 Multiple facets of constructional Arabic gender and ‘functional universalism’ in the DP
Gender and Noun Classification

Abdelkader Fassi Fehri

Oxford University Press

Rather than being confined to an intrinsic nominal property (of the low n), and expressing sex or animacy, gender is shown to be polysemous, contributing ‘unorthodox’ meanings such as quantity, perspective, evaluation, performativity, and interacting with various layers and categories in the nominal domain. It is then constructional, and distributed over the various syntactic projections, including RootP, nP, DivP, GroupP, and SAP (Speech Act Phrase). Appealing to data from Arabic varieties shows that gender plays the same role played by classifiers in South Asian classifier languages. Two alternating (and equivalent) modes of unitization are used in forming individual units or groups: (a) morphological gender builds singulatives or pluratives, and (b) pseudo-partitives contribute semi-lexical classifier structures. Close interactions between gender, classifier, and number (in addition to other interactions) make it difficult to account for linguistic variation through traditional typologies, and open the room for a more appropriate ‘functional universalism’.

Keywords:   constructional gender, distributed gender, unitization, singulative, plurative, pseudopartitive, group, classifier, quantity, Arabic

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