|Title||On the diachronic evolution of grammatical gender in Cappadocian Greek|
Cappadocian Greek has 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 all 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 (1).
da kalan da andres ‘the good men’
b. Standard Modern Greek
i kali (i) andres ‘the good men’
iyi adamlar ‘the good men’
In this paper, I show that most treatments of grammatical gender loss in Cappadocian in the literature fail to account for a number of questions raised by the Cappadocian data themselves, such as number agreement in the plural, which is found in Cappadocian noun phrases (do kalon do andra versus da kalan da andres) but not in Turkish ones (iyi adam versus iyi adamlar), or the selection of the neuter gender over the masculine or the feminine as the default gender value in Cappadocian. The analysis presented in this paper overcomes these shortcomings and provides answers to the above questions. Following the examination of the agreement patterns in the noun phrases in two Cappadocian varieties as well as in Pontic Greek, one of the closest cognate dialects of Cappadocian, I propose that gender loss in Cappadocian followed the emergence of an inflectionally active [±human] feature in the nominal inflection of the Eastern Greek dialects and the subsequent association of the [−human] value with the neuter gender. I further suggest that the total loss of gender distinctions in the dialect should rather be viewed as the result of a series of analogical levellings of gender mismatches in polydefinite constructions (i.e., noun phrases in which the definite article appears both before an attributive adjective and the head noun), which left number agreement within the noun phrase intact. This process was most probably accelerated by language contact with Turkish, but was certainly not triggered by it.
|Conference||4th International Conference of Modern Greek Dialects and Linguistic Theory|
|Accepted author manuscript|