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Femininum genus
a study on the origins of the Indo-European feminine grammatical gender
Francisco José Ledo-Lemos.

Published 2000 by Lincom Europa in München .
Written in English.

About the Book

The grammatical feminine gender was developed by Indo-European in relatively recent times, and was superimposed on an older system of two genders (animate / inanimate). The virtual totality of Indo-Europeanists would agree with this affirmation; but there is no agreement between researchers over the factors which led to the emergence of this new gender.
By analyzing the diverse uses of the suffix * eH2 , Karl Brugmann managed to explain why the feminine grammatical gender includes many words which are not semantically feminine. Brugmann’s perspective is still substantially correct, but, in the exact terms in which he formulated this theory (more than a hundred years ago), it cannot give a satisfactory explanation to three important questions: (1) How did the diversity of uses of the suffix * (e)H2 originate? (2) How did some adjectives develop specific forms for feminine agreement? (3) Why are the ā stems and the thematic declension in complementary distribution? The different theories that have been proposed since Brugmann can some-times answer one or (at best) two of these questions, but there is not a theory which can resolve the three questions simultaneously. Such a theory is, precisely, the object of the present study.


1. Some typological data.
1.1. The non-universal character of grammatical gender.
1.2. “Gender”, “genders” and “gender agreement”.
1.3. The different word classes involved in agreement, and the semantic and syntactic relationships upon which agreement is established.
1.4. The criteria for gender assignment: semantic criteria and formal criteria.
1.5. The hierarchy of gender assignment rules. Genders and subgenders.
1.6. The grammaticalization of the oppositions between animate / inanimate and masculine / feminine in world languages.
1.7. “Feminine gender” and “feminine motion”.
2. The relative chronology of the masculine / feminine and animate / inanimate oppositions in the Indo-European languages.
2.1. The recent origin of the feminine gender in Indo-European languages: internal reconstruction arguments.
2.2. The origin of the animate / inanimate opposition.
2.3. Conclusion: the circumstances of grammatical gender before the appearance of the feminine.
3. The feminine gender markers: the suffix * (e)H2 and the suffix * y(e)H2 .
3.1. The suffix * (e)H2 and the suffix * y(e)H2 as “feminizers”.
3.2. The suffix * (e)H2 : collectives, abstracts and the feminine.
3.3. The suffix * y(e)H2 : the *ī stems and the desinence of thematic genitive in Italic and in Celtic.
3.4. Relative chronology of the suffixes * (e)H2 and * y(e)H2 as markers of the feminine grammatical gender.
4. Anatolian and the feminine gender.
4.1. Did the suffix * i(e)H2 exist in pre-Anatolian Indo-European?
4.2. Sommer’s apophonic argument.
4.3. Evidence alleged for the suffix * (e)H2 in Anatolian.
4.4. The gender of some Anatolian forms and their non-Anatolian cognates.
4.5. Summary and conclusions.
5. The plural neuters in * eH2, the feminines in * eH2 , and the proto-form *gwenH2 "woman".
5.1. J. Schmidt’s explanation: the suffix was originally a feminizer.
5.2. Brugmann’s proposal.
5.3. Harðarson’s hypothesis.
6. The pronouns and the emergence of feminine grammatical gender.
6.1. From pronouns to gender markers.
6.2. Grammatical gender in pronouns.
7. From relational adjectives to abstract, collective or feminine nouns.
7.1. General comments on relational adjectives.
7.2. “Abstracts”, “collectives”, “feminine” and “relational adjective”.
7.3. A possible antecedent of this hypothesis in Kuryłowicz .
8. The relationship between ā stems and thematic declension: the origin of feminine grammatical agreement.
8.1. The special relationship between ā stems and thematic declension: the main mission of the suffix * (e)H2 in the historical languages is precisely to form relational adjectives.
8.2. A favorable context: the permeability between nouns and adjectives.
8.3. Economy and distinctiveness: multiple functions in a single morphological model and multiple morphological models for a single function.
8.4. An example of the behavior of these two tendencies: nouns that designate occupations or social positions.
9. Feminine periphrasis in Indo-European.
9.1. The proto-form *sor “woman” as the second element of compound nouns.
9.2. EXCURSUS: The geminated sibilant in the Hittite suffix –sar.
10. The old and the new gender of the stems in * (e)H2 .
10.1. Formal criteria in the new gender class.
10.2. The masculine ā stem nouns.
10.3. The inanimate gender of the abstract nouns in * (e)H2 .

Edition Notes

Includes bibliographical references (p. [157]-171).

LINCOM studies in Indo-European linguistics ;, 27


Dewey Decimal Class
Library of Congress
P633 .L44 2000

The Physical Object

171 p. ;
Number of pages

ID Numbers

Open Library
LC Control Number

History Created December 10, 2009 · 3 revisions
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December 5, 2010 Edited by Open Library Bot Added subjects from MARC records.
April 28, 2010 Edited by Open Library Bot Linked existing covers to the work.
December 10, 2009 Created by WorkBot add works page