Volume 36, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0176-4225
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9714
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Despite its alleged relative stability, grammatical gender has nevertheless been completely lost in a number of languages. Through the analysis of three case studies (Afrikaans, Ossetic, and Cappadocian Greek) and a brief survey of similar developments in other languages, this article investigates the link between the loss of gender and language contact, which appears to be a key factor in the decline of gender systems. Drawing on recent research within the framework of sociolinguistic typology, I focus on the specific influence that a particular type of language contact (namely, non-native or imperfect learning) usually exerts on the grammar of the languages being acquired. I also discuss the diachronic asymmetry between the loss and the development of gender in language contact settings: while gender loss seems to be contact-related in quite a number of cases, replication or borrowing of gender turns out to be a rather restricted or even rare phenomenon.


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