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      Gender flip and person marking in Benchnon (North Omotic)

      research-article
      1
      Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
      Ubiquity Press
      inflection, paradigms, gender, person, diachrony

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          Abstract

          Subject agreement in the North Omotic language Benchnon ( Rapold 2006) lacks dedicated person marking, but indirectly indicates person distinctions through asymmetries in the distribution of gender markers. In one verbal paradigm, first and second person subjects are expressed by feminine morphology, and in the other paradigm they are expressed by masculine morphology. This is hard to reconcile with any known notion of how gender assignment works. I show that it can be explained as the particular instantiation of a rare but cross-linguistically recurrent pattern in which a (reduced) person marking system is generated by restrictions on gender agreement: only third person subjects control semantic gender agreement, while first and second person are assigned default gender. In Benchnon the default gender switched from feminine to masculine over the course of its history, yielding two contrasting verbal paradigms. The older one is morphologically frozen, the newer one is a reflection of still-active agreement conditions. Further developments show that the older paradigm can be adapted to conform to the newer conditions, showing that the division between morphosyntactically motivated and arbitrarily stipulated morphology is a fluid one.

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          Most cited references24

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          Languages across boundaries. Studies in memory of Anna Siewierska

          (2013)
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            2. Historical linguistics and genealogical language classification in Africa

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              Morphological reversals

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                2397-1835
                Glossa: a journal of general linguistics
                Ubiquity Press
                2397-1835
                24 July 2020
                2020
                : 5
                : 1
                : 76
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Surrey Morphology Group, University of Surrey, GB
                Article
                10.5334/gjgl.1191
                7467c3d6-fcf3-48fa-9f22-4ed32272d86d
                Copyright: © 2020 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                History
                : 09 January 2020
                : 26 May 2020
                Categories
                Research

                General linguistics,Linguistics & Semiotics
                gender,diachrony,person,paradigms,inflection
                General linguistics, Linguistics & Semiotics
                gender, diachrony, person, paradigms, inflection

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