Gender on Animal Nouns in Greek

Authors

  • Giorgos Spathas Leibniz-Zentrum Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft
  • Yasutada Sudo University College London

Abstract

In this paper we examine the semantic properties of gender specifications of nouns that describe animals (animal nouns), a topic that has not been given sufficient attention in the literature. Focusing on (Modern) Greek, we observe that different animal nouns have different ‘default genders’, unlike nouns that describe humans (human nouns), which can only be masculine-default. At first this seems to be a problem for the widely held idea that masculine is unmarked in languages like Greek, but we explain it away by claiming that such cases involve genders with no interpretations, i.e. grammatical genders. However, our observations reveal several key differences between animal and human nouns, which call for further theoretical inquiry.

Keywords

gender, markedness, animal nouns, Greek

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Published

17-12-2020

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