Gender assignment in the Jamtlandic variety of Scandinavian

The large Scandinavian languages, such as Swedish and Danish, have lost their three-gender system to a system of commune and neuter. However, several smaller dialects or languages, such as Jamtlandic and Elfdalian, have preserved the system of three genders. In a new study from our research group, by Briana Van Epps and me, we investigate the assignment principles of gender in Jamtlandic. The dialect indicates an instability of the feminine gender, which is visible, among others, in gender assignment of loanwords.

DOI to the paper (Nordic Journal of Linguistics (2019), 1-33):

AbstractIn this study, we present an analysis of gender assignment tendencies in Jamtlandic, a lan-guage variety of Sweden, using a word list of 1029 items obtained from fieldwork. Mostresearch on gender assignment in the Scandinavian languages focuses on the standard lan-guages (Steinmetz 1985; Källström 1996; Trosterud 2001, 2006) and Norwegian dialects(Enger 2011, Kvinlaug 2011, Enger & Corbett 2012). However, gender assignment prin-ciples for Swedish dialects have not previously been researched. We find generalizationsbased on semantic, morphological, and phonological principles. Some of the principlesapply more consistently than others, some‘win’in competition with other principles; amultinomial logistic regression analysis provides a statistical foundation for evaluatingthe principles. The strongest tendencies are those based on biological sex, plural inflection,derivational suffixes, and some phonological sequences. Weaker tendencies include non-core semantic tendencies and other phonological sequences. Gender assignment inmodern loanwords differs from the overall material, with a larger proportion of nounsassigned masculine gender.

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