Article published in:Studies on German-Language Islands
Edited by Michael T. Putnam
[Studies in Language Companion Series 123] 2011
► pp. 67–110
Between Dutch and German
In this paper, I describe the grammatical gender system of Plautdietsch as it relates to referent animacy. Plautdietsch (a settlement dialect of netherlandic Mennonites in the Americas), and more specifically Henderson Plautdietsch (the variety of Plautdietsch spoken in Henderson, Nebraska), has a mixed syntactic-semantic gender system that is structurally positioned between that of Standard Dutch and High German. It has a three-way masculine-feminine-neuter grammatical gender contrast across gender agreement targets, and exhibits DP-internal hybrid gender assignment (where a noun assigns one gender to one and another gender to another type of DP-internal gender agreement target). I explain that a geometry of hierarchically organized gender and animacy features is uniquely suited to explain the hybrid gender assignment we find in Plautdietsch, as well as explains a number of other phenomena we observe in gender systems (such as default gender and the flexible gender assignment of inanimate nouns).
Published online: 31 January 2011