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The loss of grammatical gender in Cappadocian Greek

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Cappadocian Greek figures as an extreme case a) of language change within the Hellenic branch of Indo-European languages, and b) of dialectal variation among the Modern Greek dialects in having lost the tripartite grammatical gender distinction into masculine, feminine and neuter nominals, a distinction operative in Greek since its earliest recorded stages. In Cappadocian, nouns, whose cognates bear three different gender values in literally all the other Modern Greek varieties, behave as neuters in that they combine with the neuter forms of the various determiners and modifiers that agree with them. In this talk, I argue that this linguistic innovation should not be viewed exclusively as the result of language contact with Turkish, as is most commonly assumed in the literature, but, rather, as the outcome of a series of language-internal analogical levellings of gender mismatches in polydefinite constructions, a process most probably accelerated by language contact but certainly not triggered by it.

This talk is part of the Linguistics PhD seminars series.

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