Gender distinction and affirmative copula clauses in Zargulla

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In Omotic, grammatical gender that is expressed through agreement between associated words and equally affecting animate and inanimate nouns is not common. Rather, the system of gender-marking in Omotic mostly involves direct-marking on the noun and it is semantically determined, i.e., the system classifies (large) animate nouns according to their biological gender and leaves inanimate nouns unmarked or marks all inanimate nouns categorically as either masculine or feminine. In Zargulla feminine and masculine gender is morphologically distinguished in the following areas: in verbal subject-agreement marking, definiteness marking in nouns and in third person singular pronouns. Moreover, Zargulla has two copula markers: -<i>tte </i>and -<i>tta</i>, the distribution of which partly corresponds to masculine and feminine gender respectively. The focus of the present contribution is on these two morphemes. We show that the gender-marking role of the two morphemes is diminishing and that they are grammaticalizing into two different discourse-functional morphemes.


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