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Definiteness, Gender, and Hybrids: Evidence from Norwegian Dialects

Enger, HO and Corbett, GG (2012) Definiteness, Gender, and Hybrids: Evidence from Norwegian Dialects Journal of Germanic Linguistics, 24 (4). 287 - 324. ISSN 1470-5427

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In some Norwegian dialects, such as older Oslo dialect, the noun mamma ‘mother’ unexpectedly appears to be masculine. The Nordreisa dialect (Northern Norwegian) goes one step further. The word looks like it is masculine, but only in the definite form. This is an unusual “split” because gender mixture is normally based on number, not definiteness (but we find some few corroborative examples in other Norwegian dialects and different, but converging evidence on the Web). The Nordreisa example of mamma is unusual also because agreement targets are affected differently. The preference is for masculine agreement within the noun phrase, but for feminine agreement outside it. This is, therefore, an intriguing example since it combines a split based on definiteness with different gender requirements according to different agreement targets. On careful analysis, and given strict adherence to the classical, agreement-based definition of gender, the unusual behavior of mamma turns out to conform to the Agreement Hierarchy

Item Type: Article
Divisions : Faculty of Arts and Human Sciences > English and Languages > English > Surrey Morphology Group
Authors :
Date : 19 November 2012
Identification Number : 10.1017/S1470542712000098
Related URLs :
Additional Information : This paper was published as Enger HO, Corbett GG (2012). Definiteness, Gender, and Hybrids: Evidence from Norwegian Dialects. Journal of Germanic Linguistics 24(4):287-324 Copyright 2012 with permission of Cambridge University Press. Available online at:
Depositing User : Symplectic Elements
Date Deposited : 06 Dec 2012 15:54
Last Modified : 09 Jun 2014 13:32

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