The Amharic gender system and previous approaches to gender

Ruth Kramer

in The Morphosyntax of Gender

Published in print August 2015 | ISBN: 9780199679935
Published online October 2015 | e-ISBN: 9780191760129 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics

The Amharic gender system and previous approaches to gender

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Grammar, Syntax and Morphology
  • Linguistics


Show Summary Details


This chapter provides a thorough description of the gender system of Amharic (Ethiosemitic), and then shows how it is difficult to account for in previous approaches to the morphology and syntax of gender. Amharic has two genders: masculine and feminine. Its gender system relies heavily on natural gender (i.e. biological sex)—all animate entities have the gender associated with their biological sex. The default gender is masculine, although a handful of animal-referring nouns have feminine-default gender. Since the Amharic gender system depends largely on natural gender for animates, it is not well analyzed under previous analyses that do not address natural gender. Previous approaches that do in fact address natural gender struggle in accounting for the exceptional feminine default animal nouns. Finally, arguments are presented against having gender be a feature on category-neutral roots—for both empirical and theory-internal reasons.

Keywords: gender; morphology; syntax; Amharic; default gender; natural gender; roots; nominalization

Chapter.  8718 words. 

Subjects: Grammar, Syntax and Morphology ; Linguistics

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.