LINGUIST List 3.270

Thu 19 Mar 1992

Disc: Gender

Editor for this issue: <>


Directory

  1. Margaret Fleck, references on generics
  2. Dan Everett, Re: 3.267 Queries: Heine, Prehistory, Gender
  3. Zvi Gilbert, Re: 3.267 Q: Gender
  4. BROADWELL GEORGE AARON, feminine as the unmarked gender
  5. , Re: 3.267 Queries: Heine, Prehistory, Gender
  6. (ROADWELL GEORGE AARON, it
  7. Jacques Guy, unmarked feminine

Message 1: references on generics

Date: Wed, 18 Mar 92 10:13:49 -0references on generics
From: Margaret Fleck <mfleckcs.uiowa.edu>
Subject: references on generics


In my last posting, I referred to some work by Carlson on generics. A
couple people asked me for the references. Unfortunately, I managed
to delete the email from one of them before realizing that the mail
system had sabotaged my reply in an interesting new way that didn't
even leave their return address in the header of the bounced mail. So
I'm reduced to posting the references here:

Carlson, Gregory N.
 (1977) ``Reference to Kinds in English,'' Ph.D. thesis,
Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts, Amherst,
destributed [softbound] by the Graduate Linguistic Student Association
of that department [at least it was as whenever I got it, maybe 5
years ago?]

 (1977) ``A Unified Analysis of the English Bare Plural,'' {\it
Linguistics and Philosophy} 1, pp. 413--457.

Margaret Fleck
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Message 2: Re: 3.267 Queries: Heine, Prehistory, Gender

Date: Thu, 19 Mar 92 15:40:17 -0Re: 3.267 Queries: Heine, Prehistory, Gender
From: Dan Everett <deverpogo.isp.pitt.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.267 Queries: Heine, Prehistory, Gender

Feminine is the unmarked gender in Arawan languages of Northwestern
Amazonas, Brazil. Alan Vogel, UT Arlington has an MA thesis on gender
in Jarawa. I have a ms. here at Pitt on gender in Deni and Steve
Marlett (SIL Tucson) has some info on Madija.

As to any connection with cultural attitudes, gender relations, I have
no observations to relate.

Dan Everett
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Message 3: Re: 3.267 Q: Gender

Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1992 15:53:16Re: 3.267 Q: Gender
From: Zvi Gilbert <zgilbertepas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: Re: 3.267 Q: Gender

I was just informed today that Cayuga, an Iroquoian language, uses the
feminine gender pronoun as the unmarked form, in both singular and
plural cases (i.e., a mixed group of both men and women is referred to
by the female plural pronoun.)

This information is via Carrie Dyck, who wrote her MA Thesis on the
phonology of Cayuga (cdyckepas.utoronto.ca)

--Zvi
zgilbertepas.utoronto.ca
	epas.toronto.edu
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Message 4: feminine as the unmarked gender

Date: Thu, 19 Mar 92 15:54:56 -0feminine as the unmarked gender
From: BROADWELL GEORGE AARON <gb661csc.albany.edu>
Subject: feminine as the unmarked gender


Edward Kovach asks if there are any languages with feminine as the
unmarked gender.

Greville Corbett's book *Gender* (Cambridge Univ. Press, 1991), which
I recommend strongly, cites (at least) one language where feminine
is claimed to be the unmarked case. The language is Zayse, an Omotic
language (spoken in Ethiopia, I presume.)

The original reference is Hayward, R.J. 1989. The notion of `default
gender': a key to interpreting the evolution of certain verb para-
digms in East Ometo, and its implications for Omotic. Afrika und
U"bersee 72:17-32.

I don't know anything about what the culture of these people might be
like, but I wouldn't bet on matriarchy...

******************************************************************************
Aaron Broadwell, Dept. of Linguistics, University at Albany -- SUNY,
Albany, NY 12222 gb661thor.albany.edu
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Message 5: Re: 3.267 Queries: Heine, Prehistory, Gender

Date: Thu, 19 Mar 1992 16:24 ESTRe: 3.267 Queries: Heine, Prehistory, Gender
From: <LRUDOLPHvax.clarku.edu>
Subject: Re: 3.267 Queries: Heine, Prehistory, Gender

John Barnden asked if anyone had proposed using "it" to avoid
gender-specificity.

Yes. E. Nesbit, early Fabian socialist and author of children's books
later read by (among others) Freeman Dyson, regularly used "it" for a child
of either gender (but not, I think, for adults).

...Actually I don't know if she _proposed_ using "it", or just _did_ so; but I
wouldn't be surprised if there was an explicit proposal somewhere in the
Fabian literature.
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Message 6: it

Date: Thu, 19 Mar 92 15:38:10 CSit
From: (ROADWELL GEORGE AARON <baronux1.cso.uiuc.edu>
Subject: it

John Barnden asks if _it_ had ever been considered as a generic
3 pers. sg. pronoun. Yes. Since the early 1970s _it_ has been
frequently proposed, rejected, discussed, reproposed. Earlier
still (1880s), _one_ also made the rounds. Interestingly, _it_
has frequently served in English as the pronoun of choice in
reference to infants and children. References to "the child . . . it"
are common earlier in this century, though I suspect they are less
common today, at least in American English; also, _it_ seems to occur now
more with infants (whose sex may be harder or less important
for the speaker to guess at) than with children, though earlier
this distinction did not seem to apply.

What is working against acceptance with _it_ is probably its strong
marking as nonhuman and possibly also inanimate, as well as its
traditional use in (children's/teen) slang to refer derogatorily
to another's gender/humanity.

Else _it_ would be an ideal candidate; and Early Modern _it_ even more
ideal than the it of today, since by then the initial _h_ and confusing
variety of forms of Old and ME were pretty much gone, and _its_ was
still abuilding: until the 17c. the forms for
subject, object, and possessive were all uninflected _it_ (no
its, I believe, in the King James version).

Dennis Baron debaronuiuc.edu
Dept. of English office: 217-244-0568
University of Illinois messages: 217-333-2392
608 S. Wright St fax: 217-333-4321
Urbana IL 61801
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Message 7: unmarked feminine

Date: Fri, 20 Mar 92 07:45:56 ESunmarked feminine
From: Jacques Guy <j.guytrl.oz.au>
Subject: unmarked feminine


Not what Edward Kovach had in mind, alas, but a piece of linguistic
Ripley-style "did you know that..".

I have it from my late colleague Donald Laycock (Australian
National University) that, in a few languages of Papua-New-Guinea
(unfortunately I cannot remember any names) there are both
masculine and feminine 3rd person pronouns. Nothing strange so
far. Now, should a group of persons be all men, except for one,
count her: one, lone woman, you use the *feminine* 3rd pl. pronoun.
Don's interpretation was: "It's not what you think. In fact, they
are as macho a lot as you could ever find. The presence of just one
women (and, a fortiori, several) in a group of men is so extraordinary
that it warrants using the feminine pronoun."
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