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Gender agreement with animate nouns in French

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Abstract

Grammatical gender and semantic gender do not always go hand in hand. In French such mismatches can be observed outside the strict DP. To account for such phenomena and for gender more generally, we propose that gender is expressed in two positions within DP: on N as an uninterpretable feature accounting for grammatical gender and on the head of a Gender Phrase as a feature accounting for semantic gender. To account for the mismatches we discuss, we propose that the gender of the nouns involved is unspecified inside DP and that it can be specified in D later in the derivation.We further show that inside the strict DP, grammatical gender agreement between Gen and NP is stricter than in the &#8216;looser&#8217; DP (partitive), which is in turn stricter than the agreeing/referring relation with elements outside DP, reflecting Corbett&#8217;s agreement hierarchy, to which we add a <i>partitive </i>position.

References

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