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Somali gender polarity revisited

Paper i proceeding
Författare Morgan Nilsson
Publicerad i Payne, Doris L. & Pacchiarotti, Sara & Bosire, Mokaya (eds.), Diversity in African languages: Selected papers from the 46th Annual Conference on African Linguistics, Oregon, March 26-28, 2015.
ISBN 978-3-946234-70-8
Förlag Language Science Press
Förlagsort Berlin
Publiceringsår 2016
Publicerad vid Institutionen för språk och litteraturer
Språk en
Länkar langsci-press.org/catalog/book/121
Ämnesord Somali, morphology, gender, number, polarity
Ämneskategorier Afrikanska språk

Sammanfattning

The notion of gender polarity is a well established part of the description of Somali nouns. It refers to the phenomenon that in most Somali nouns a change in number is accompanied by a simultaneous change in gender, and it implies that number is actually expressed by means of the change in gender. However, from a synchronic point of view there seems to be little evidence for such an interpretation, as plural gender is realised solely through the shape of the definite article suffix on the noun itself. In this article the main arguments for the standard description are investigated and an alternative solution based on typological considerations of the data is proposed, claiming that gender is not relevant in the plural. Instead, the form of the plural definite article is predictable from the gender of the noun in the singular, together with some morpho-phonological characteristics of the stem. Additionally, many nouns traditionally claimed to be plural are argued here to be formally singular and mostly collective.

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