Multiple gender systems in one language

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greatbuddha
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Multiple gender systems in one language

Post by greatbuddha » 28 Feb 2014 22:15

Are there any natlangs in which there are two gender systems going on at once without interfering with eachother? Say, the verbs have a bantu-esque subject agreement system while adjectives agree in animacy? Or are usch systems inherently unstable?
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Yačay256
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Re: Multiple gender systems in one language

Post by Yačay256 » 01 Mar 2014 07:57

The mixed language Michif has a French-based gender system and a Cree-based animacy system. See here for a grammar.

Maybe Tariana also satisfies your criteria? Though Classifiers are different from noun classes, obviously.
¡Mñíĝínxàʋày!
¡[ˈmí.ɲ̟ōj.ˌɣín.ʃà.βä́j]!
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Hello, colleagues!

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Omzinesý
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Re: Multiple gender systems in one language

Post by Omzinesý » 01 Mar 2014 20:06

I decided to make a conlang with both two distinct gender/noun class systems, good that the idea was in in the board.

I know (i.e. have read) that there are languages like that, but I cannot name one.

I still think there are no typological definition for gender, noun class and classifier.
Calling them is a kind of continuum gender - noun class - classifier

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Thrice Xandvii
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Re: Multiple gender systems in one language

Post by Thrice Xandvii » 02 Mar 2014 10:13

As for the OP, I wonder whether it would actually be two genders in a single language, or rather one complex gender system where agreement manifest differently in different places. Or is that functionally the same thing as what is being asked about?
Omzinesý wrote:Calling them is a kind of continuum gender - noun class - classifier
In my mind, gender is a specific sub-type of noun class in which the main distinction is a sex-based one... but many folks use the terms interchangeably it seems. For me, I much prefer the term noun class as it carries less baggage with it in terms of connotations of a sex-based system.
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Omzinesý
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Re: Multiple gender systems in one language

Post by Omzinesý » 02 Mar 2014 10:46

[quote="XXXVII"]As for the OP, I wonder whether it would actually be two genders in a single language, or rather one complex gender system where agreement manifest differently in different places. Or is that functionally the same thing as what is being asked about?

I think they are "functionally the same thing as what is being asked about". I'm an instrumentalist. All rules are just descriptions. No description can be objectively "true". There are just better and worse descriptions.
Of course, there aren't two rules in ones head that make the cases systems work independently of each other. But if they seem to work independently, I would prefer describing them as two independent systems.

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Re: Multiple gender systems in one language

Post by Sumelic » 10 Mar 2014 05:29

I think it depends on what you consider a complete gender system. English and French, for example, don't inflect adjectives for animacy, but do inflect relative pronouns for animacy, but is that really a gender system? Probably not, since this is such a marginal case. And then Polish, for example, apparently has three main genders of masculine, feminine and neuter but also has inflection based on animacy and personal vs. impersonal in some cases.

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eldin raigmore
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Re: Multiple gender systems in one language

Post by eldin raigmore » 10 Mar 2014 23:33

greatbuddha wrote:Are there any natlangs in which there are two gender systems going on at once without interfering with eachother? Say, the verbs have a bantu-esque subject agreement system while adjectives agree in animacy? Or are usch systems inherently unstable?
IMO you, or one of us, should make a conlang having such gender systems. Or try to. If it turns out to be unrealistically impractical, then one might say it's probably "inherently" unstable. If it is "inherently unstable", then odds are no or very few natlangs have two gender systems.

To me, "gender" means "concordial noun-class".
A noun-class system doesn't have to be concordial; that is, perhaps no other word is ever required to agree with the noun's class.
But, if a language has a concordial noun-class system, it has a gender system IMO, even if none of the genders is masculine or feminine.

According to WALS.info:
Most languages don't have a concordial noun-class system (a gender system).
Most language that do have a gender system, have a sex-based gender system (for instance its four genders might be: {Feminine, Masculine, Neuter, and Common/Epicene/Mixed}).
A very strong majority of language that have a non-sex-based gender system, have an animacy-based gender system.

Note that a language could have very many (10 or 20 or more) concordial noun-classes, and still have a sex-based gender system; if one of its genders either contained all male humans and no females, or all female humans and no males.

Likewise, a language with an animacy-based gender system could have more genders than just: {Animate, Inanimate}.

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I think your best bet might be to find a natlang whose gender-system is undergoing diachronic change.
Maybe its masculine and feminine genders are merging into an animate gender while its neuter gender is becoming an inanimate gender; or, maybe its animate gender is splitting into masculine and feminine.
Or, maybe its nonfeminine gender is splitting into masculine and neuter; or its masculine and neuter are merging.
Or, maybe its nonmasculine gender is splitting into feminine and neuter; or its feminine and neuter are merging.
And of course those six possibilities are not the only ones.
We know that such things have happened to natlangs in the past; I'm not sure any currently-spoken, currently-somebody's-native language, is undergoing such a change.

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I think my conlang Adpihi, if I ever get that far with it, will have its verbs agree only with the animacy or inanimacy of its participants, while anything else having to do with the nouns will agree with their gender in a large non-sexbased gender system. I expect it to be perfectly compatible.

(I also have a complicated sex-based gender system that I haven't decided to use in Adpihi. I can't see how to use it with the others.)

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