The paper deals with gender assignment, i.e., the process by which speakers are able to assign a gender feature value to a lexical item not yet bearing such a value. The need for gender assignment arises mainly in the case of headless neologisms and loanwords. The paper draws evidence mainly from loanwords into Italian, a language which has a two-gender system. The first part of the paper tests several hypotheses about the existence of dominance relations between two kinds of gender assignment criteria, formal and semantic ones, against Italian data. Italian data seem best compatible with theories that allow for the possibility that semantic rules dominate over formal rules in gender assignment. In the second part of the paper, a constraint on possible semantic gender assignment rules is proposed, the Basic Level Hyperonym Constraint, stating that to be able to assign gender to its hyponyms, a hyperonym must be a basic level term.

Constraining gender assignment rules

THORNTON, ANNA MARIA
2009-01-01

Abstract

The paper deals with gender assignment, i.e., the process by which speakers are able to assign a gender feature value to a lexical item not yet bearing such a value. The need for gender assignment arises mainly in the case of headless neologisms and loanwords. The paper draws evidence mainly from loanwords into Italian, a language which has a two-gender system. The first part of the paper tests several hypotheses about the existence of dominance relations between two kinds of gender assignment criteria, formal and semantic ones, against Italian data. Italian data seem best compatible with theories that allow for the possibility that semantic rules dominate over formal rules in gender assignment. In the second part of the paper, a constraint on possible semantic gender assignment rules is proposed, the Basic Level Hyperonym Constraint, stating that to be able to assign gender to its hyponyms, a hyperonym must be a basic level term.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11697/19151
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