|Title||The loss of grammatical gender in Cappadocian Greek|
Cappadocian Greek is an extreme case of language change and 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 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 (do kalon do andra 'the good man', do kalon do neka 'the good woman', do kalon do pei 'the good child'). This innovation is often found in discussions of contact-induced language changes observed in Cappadocian, seemingly implying that language contact with Turkish was the decisive factor in this process of language change. The absence of grammatical gender distinctions and the invariability of elements modifying head nouns denoting entities of different (or no) sex, that is the absence of agreement within the noun phrase in Turkish, is most commonly brought forth as evidence in support of a contact-related explanation. 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 the 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 inflectional active [±HUMAN] feature in the nominal inflection of the Asia Minor 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||XIXth International Conference on Historical Linguistics|
|Accepted author manuscript|