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Gender in Scandinavian : On the gender systems in Mainland Scandinavian, with focus on Swedish

Josefsson, Gunlög LU (2013)
Abstract
Basing my conclusions on Mainland Scandinavian, primarily Swedish, I argue that a strict division has to be made between three concepts or dimensions of gender: formal gender, semantic gender and lexical gender. Lexical gender is a salient meaning component of a noun; this dimension of gender is syntactically inert. Semantic gender is a category of thought, conveyed by pronominal resources. Semantic genders are for instance categories such as MALE – FEMALE, COUNTABLE – NON-COUNTABLE, and ANIMATE – NON-ANIMATE. Formal gender is a piece of phonology that is added post-syntactically to a derivation. The three dimensions are clearly separate, but they interact, and the pronominal forms associated with the different dimensions are sometimes... (More)
Basing my conclusions on Mainland Scandinavian, primarily Swedish, I argue that a strict division has to be made between three concepts or dimensions of gender: formal gender, semantic gender and lexical gender. Lexical gender is a salient meaning component of a noun; this dimension of gender is syntactically inert. Semantic gender is a category of thought, conveyed by pronominal resources. Semantic genders are for instance categories such as MALE – FEMALE, COUNTABLE – NON-COUNTABLE, and ANIMATE – NON-ANIMATE. Formal gender is a piece of phonology that is added post-syntactically to a derivation. The three dimensions are clearly separate, but they interact, and the pronominal forms associated with the different dimensions are sometimes identical, which might blur the picture. The formal gender features have basically the same status as the phonological features of a root. Thus, formal gender does not carry any inherent meaning, but participates in the spell-out of semantic distinctions, for example ANIMATE – INANIMATE. Of particular importance is the idea that the feature NEUTER is used in Mainland Scandinavian to spell out the absence of a number feature, which accounts for neuter agreement on so-called pancake sentences. An effect is that NEUTER in such contexts corresponds to NON-COUNTABILITY. Drawing on work done in the 80s (Bosch 1983, 1986; Cornish 1983), I argue that it is necessary to distinguish between pronouns that refer to a linguistic entity, for example a DP, and pronouns that refer to a discourse entity. This is, in fact, what lies behind they properties of hybrid nouns (Corbett 1991), which are cases where the two ways of making reference make use of different pronominal forms. For Swedish the pronouns den (it.C) ‘it’ and det (it.N) ‘it’ are carefully discussed. It is shown that these pronouns can be used for reference to noun phrases, where the head nouns are formally COMMON GENDER or NEUTER, as well as to to COUNTABLE or NON-COUNTABLE discourse entities. The analyses are based on Swedish and Mainland Scandinavian, but an out-look is made to some related languages. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Book/Report
publication status
submitted
subject
keywords
Mainland Scandinavian, non-countables, hybrid nouns, neuter, west jutlandic, lexical gender, semantic gender, formal gender, gender, syntax, phonology, semantics, morphology
pages
126 pages
publisher
[Publisher information missing]
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
964335c3-53f9-445d-98da-6d51027ebb3c (old id 4857183)
alternative location
http://ling.auf.net/lingbuzz/001966
date added to LUP
2014-12-08 12:07:22
date last changed
2016-04-16 11:55:02
@misc{964335c3-53f9-445d-98da-6d51027ebb3c,
  abstract     = {Basing my conclusions on Mainland Scandinavian, primarily Swedish, I argue that a strict division has to be made between three concepts or dimensions of gender: formal gender, semantic gender and lexical gender. Lexical gender is a salient meaning component of a noun; this dimension of gender is syntactically inert. Semantic gender is a category of thought, conveyed by pronominal resources. Semantic genders are for instance categories such as MALE – FEMALE, COUNTABLE – NON-COUNTABLE, and ANIMATE – NON-ANIMATE. Formal gender is a piece of phonology that is added post-syntactically to a derivation. The three dimensions are clearly separate, but they interact, and the pronominal forms associated with the different dimensions are sometimes identical, which might blur the picture. The formal gender features have basically the same status as the phonological features of a root. Thus, formal gender does not carry any inherent meaning, but participates in the spell-out of semantic distinctions, for example ANIMATE – INANIMATE. Of particular importance is the idea that the feature NEUTER is used in Mainland Scandinavian to spell out the absence of a number feature, which accounts for neuter agreement on so-called pancake sentences. An effect is that NEUTER in such contexts corresponds to NON-COUNTABILITY. Drawing on work done in the 80s (Bosch 1983, 1986; Cornish 1983), I argue that it is necessary to distinguish between pronouns that refer to a linguistic entity, for example a DP, and pronouns that refer to a discourse entity. This is, in fact, what lies behind they properties of hybrid nouns (Corbett 1991), which are cases where the two ways of making reference make use of different pronominal forms. For Swedish the pronouns den (it.C) ‘it’ and det (it.N) ‘it’ are carefully discussed. It is shown that these pronouns can be used for reference to noun phrases, where the head nouns are formally COMMON GENDER or NEUTER, as well as to to COUNTABLE or NON-COUNTABLE discourse entities. The analyses are based on Swedish and Mainland Scandinavian, but an out-look is made to some related languages.},
  author       = {Josefsson, Gunlög},
  keyword      = {Mainland Scandinavian,non-countables,hybrid nouns,neuter,west jutlandic,lexical gender,semantic gender,formal gender,gender,syntax,phonology,semantics,morphology},
  language     = {eng},
  pages        = {126},
  publisher    = {ARRAY(0x949b930)},
  title        = {Gender in Scandinavian : On the gender systems in Mainland Scandinavian, with focus on Swedish},
  year         = {2013},
}