Gender, shape, and sociality: how humans are special in Manambu

Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. (2016) Gender, shape, and sociality: how humans are special in Manambu. International Journal of Language and Culture, 3 (1). 4. pp. 68-89.

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Many languages of the world have genders, that is, grammatical agreement classes, based on such core semantic properties as animacy, sex and humanness, and also shape. In Manambu, a language of New Guinea, nouns are assigned genders according to the sex of a human referent, and to shape and size of any other referent. Men are assigned to the masculine, and women to the feminine gender. A long tube and a large house are masculine, and a round plate and a small house are feminine. Switching gender for humans has pejorative overtones: an unusually boisterous or bossy woman can be treated as masculine, and a squat fattish man who does not display fully masculine behaviour as feminine. Classifying humans by their shape and size implies downgrading them to the level of inanimates. Gender switch also reflects social stereotypes. Feminine gender is functionally unmarked for non-humans, but not for humans. The noun du, "man" can be used as a generic term for "human being." Linguistic Gender of humans in Manambu unequivocally reflects Social Gender relations.

Item ID: 47279
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 2214-3165
Keywords: Manambu; social gender; Papuan languages; linguistic gender; markedness
Date Deposited: 14 Feb 2017 02:26
FoR Codes: 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4704 Linguistics > 470409 Linguistic structures (incl. phonology, morphology and syntax) @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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