Synchronic Variation and Grammatical Change
Previous research on Dutch gender reveals that nowadays pronoun usage mainly depends on different conceptualizations of the referent, rather than relying on grammatical principles. The same seems to account also for gender fluctuations at the nominal level (double gender nouns), a marginal phenomenon commonly reduced to the issue of geographical variation. This paper intends to fill a gap in gender studies by demonstrating the relevancy of Dutch double gender nouns (DGNs) from both a synchronic and a diachronic perspective. The analysis of DGNs not only confirms the gradual loss of grammatical gender in favor of a (more) semantic system, but also that shared features as synonymy may have some correlation with gender opacity and help explaining the diachronic persistence of the phenomenon.