Vestiges of etymological gender in Malacca Creole Portuguese

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This paper is concerned with the nature of etymological gender inflection in Malacca Creole Portuguese and its place in the diachrony of the language. The discussion considers pairs of items with etymological gender inflection and human referents. Speaker intuitions of the word-pair vitality are assessed by word recognition and judgments of the acceptability of test words in specific syntactic contexts. The items surveyed are initially contemplated as a type of derivational morphology. Subsequently, the question is posed as to whether this etymological gender morphology could have a contextual dimension, and it is observed that some limited traces thereof may be found. The incorporation and retention of etymological gender inflection is attributed to second language input to the creole, involving early second language lexical and phrasal development, influenced by a combination of communication pragmatics, salience, and potential Indian substrate features. It is suggested that such input could be both an early diachronic occurrence or could have arisen through an ongoing diglossia involving a wider lectal grid that may have existed until the 19th century.


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