Chapter published in:Historical Linguistics 2017: Selected papers from the 23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics, San Antonio, Texas, 31 July – 4 August 2017
Edited by Bridget Drinka
[Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 350] 2020
► pp. 473–488
Neuters to none
A diachronic perspective on loanword gender in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian
This study documents a diachronic change in the status of neuter noun gender in Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian (BCS). Previous research demonstrates that the neuter class is closed in BCS (Simonović 2010), and that recent loanwords from western European languages fitting its phonological profile are instead classed as masculine. I show that this is not the case for earlier loanwords from Turkish. New neuter nouns are still accepted, and when changed, are classed as feminine, not masculine. This follows an attested pattern of assigning gender according to lexical distributions. An account of gender assignment utilizing Optimality Theory and incorporating gradiently-ranked constraints captures this pattern in which rankings can shift over time, thus leading to the observed historical changes in rates of neuter gender assignment.
Keywords: grammatical gender, loanwords, borrowing, Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian, Slavic, Balkan, phonology, Optimality, Turkish
- 2.Noun gender in BCS
- 3.BCS Loanwords and Gender
- 3.1Corpus 1
- 3.2Corpus 2
- 3.3Corpus 3
- 4.Comparison across time and space
- 4.1South Slavic
- 4.2Outside Slavic
Published online: 09 July 2020
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