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Regular version of the site

Book chapter

Why is gender so complex? Some typological considerations

P. 63-92.

A cross-linguistic survey shows that languages with gender can have very high levels of morphological complexity, especially where gender is coexponential with case as in many Indo-European languages. If languages with gender are complex overall, apart from their gender, then gender can be regarded as an epiphenomenon of overall language complexity that tends to arise only as an incidental complication in already complex morphological systems. I test and falsify that hypothesis; apart from the gender paradigms themselves, gender languages are no more complex than others. The same is shown for the other main classificatory categories of nouns, numeral classifiers and possessive classes. Person, the other important indexation category, proves to be less complex, and I propose that the reason for this is that person, but not gender, is referential, allowing hierarchical patterning to emerge as a decomplexifying mechanism.

In book

Vol. 1: General issues and specific studies. Berlin: Language Science Press, 2019.