Article published in:Gender, Language and the Periphery: Grammatical and social gender from the margins
Edited by Julie Abbou and Fabienne H. Baider
[Pragmatics & Beyond New Series 264] 2016
► pp. 165–194
The representation of gender in Bajjika grammar and discourse
In this article I present a description of grammatical gender in Bajjika, a minority language of the Eastern Indo-Aryan family spoken in a small region in the northern part of the north Indian state of Bihar. Grammatical gender in Bajjika is expressed in the nominal forms, definitive particles, and verbal agreement. Although the morphology of Bajjika verb-agreement is one of the most elaborate in Indo-Aryan languages, the formalization of gender in the verbal morphology is very simple; the gender of only the second person honorific and the third person honorific referents in the subject function is encoded. The definitive particle receives gender marking when it is added to an adjective. In this article, I identify and describe different areas of Bajjika grammar where gender is encoded. Based on the analyses of excerpts from natural discourse, I also observe an interesting tendency in terms of (written and spoken) modebased neutralization of gender in Bajjika discourse. While the masculine and feminine genders of the second and third person “honorific” referents are consistently encoded in the verb-agreement in the spoken mode, in the written mode it is neutralized. We may then witness a potential neutralization of gender in terms of a diachronic change in the Bajjika grammar.
Keywords: Bajjika, Bihari language, Eastern Indo-Aryan, gender, grammatical gender, language change, lexical gender
Published online: 16 December 2016
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