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Davy Mulkens

The role of the Individuation Hierarchy in Dutch nominal gender

CELEX distinguishes three nominal genders (masculine, feminine and neuter) for Dutch nouns. However, this distinction is not discernible on the noun itself (Haeseryn et al. 1997). Adnominally only two genders are left: common and neuter, i.e. the masculine and feminine markers merged into syncretic forms (De Vogelaer 2010). In the pronominal domain, the tripartite distinction is still expressed, although, there are large differences in usage of pronominal gender in the different regions of the Dutch language area (De Vos 2014; Kraaikamp 2012; Audring 2009).

In this dissertation I argue that the three nominal genders operate along the hierarchy of individuation (Siemund 2008, Sasse 1993), in line with the original distinction in Indo-European gender (Matasović  2004). There is a strong tendency for nouns on the left side of the hierarchy to be masculine. For nouns in the middle of the hierarchy there is a strong tendency towards the feminine gender and nouns on the right side of the hierarchy are usually neuter. Furthermore I argue that the semantic factor (hierarchy of individuation) interacts with the morphological (suffix in polymorphematic nouns) resp. the phonological factor (type of the coda in monomorphematic nouns).



Audring, Jenny (2009): Reinventing pronoun gender. Utrecht: LOT.

Haeseryn, Walter, Kirsten Romijn, Guido Geerts, Jaap de Rooij, & Maarten C. van den Toorn (1997): Algemene Nederlandse Spraakkunst. Groningen/Deurne: Martinus Nijhoff Uitgevers/Wolters Plantyn.

Kraaikamp, Margot (2012): The semantics of the Dutch gender system. In: Journal of Germanic Linguistics 24/3, 233-269.

Matasović, Ranko (2004): Gender in Indo-European. Heidelberg: Winter.

Sasse, Hans-Jürgen (1993). Syntactic categories and subcategories. In: Joachim Jacobs, Arnim von Stechow, Wolfgang Sternefeld, & Theo Venneman (eds.): Syntax. Ein internationales Handbuch zeitgenössischer Forschung (An international handbook of contemporary research), 646–686. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Siemund, Peter (2008): Pronominal gender in English: A study of English varieties from a cross-linguistic perspective. London: Routledge.

Vogelaer, Gunther De (2010): (Not) acquiring grammatical gender in two varieties of Dutch. In: Dirk Geeraerts, Gitte Kristiansen and Yves Peirsman (eds.). Advances in cognitive sociolinguistics, 167-190. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. 

Vos, Lien De (2014): Pronominal resemanticization in Dutch: a salience-driven redistribution of gender-marked pronouns, Liège, Univ. Diss.