The evolutionary trends of grammatical gender in Indo-Aryan languages

In: Language Dynamics and Change
View More View Less
  • 1 CNRS/University Lyon 2, Lab Dynamics of Language UMR 5596, Lyon, France
  • | 2 Uppsala University, Department of Linguistics and Philology, Uppsala, Sweden

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):



This paper infers the processes of development and change of grammatical gender in Indo-Aryan languages using phylogenetic comparative methods. 48 Indo-Aryan languages are coded based on 44 presence-absence features relating to gender marking on the verbs, adjectives, personal pronouns, demonstrative pronouns, and possessive pronouns. A Bayesian Reverse Jump Hyper Prior analysis, which infers the evolutionary dynamics of changes between feature values, gives results that are consistent with historical linguistic and typological studies on gender systems in Indo-Aryan languages and predicts the evolutionary trends of the features included in the dataset.

  • Acharya, J. 1991. AdescriptivegrammarofNepaliandananalyzedcorpus. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press.

  • Agnihotri, R.K. 2007. Hindi:anessentialgrammar. Routledge essential grammars. London; New York: Routledge. OCLC: ocm72799377.

  • Aikhenvald, A.Y. 2000. Classifiers:Atypologyofnouncategorizationdevices. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Aikhenvald, A.Y. 2016. Howgendershapestheworld. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Allassonnière-Tang, M. and M. Kilarski 2020. Functions of gender and numeral classifiers in Nepali. PoznanStudiesinContemporaryLinguistics 56(1): 113–168.

  • Baart, J.L. 1999. AsketchofKalamKohistanigrammar. Dallas: Summer Institute of Linguistics.

  • Bashir, E. 2014. Dardic. In G. Cardona and D. Jain (eds.), TheIndo-Aryanlanguages, 905–990. New York: Routledge.

  • Beekes, R.S.P. 2011. ComparativeIndo-Europeanlinguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Bickel, B. and J. Nichols. 2002. Autotypologizing databases and their use in fieldwork. In P. Austin, H. Dry, and P. Wittenburg (eds.), ProceedingsoftheInternationalLRECWorkshoponResourcesandToolsinFieldLinguistics,LasPalmas,2627May2002. Nijmegen: ISLE and DOBES.

  • Blomberg, S.P., T. Garland Jr, and A.R. Ives. 2003. Testing for phylogenetic signal in comparative data: Behavioral traits are more labile. Evolution 57: 717–745.

  • Contini-Morava, E. and M. Kilarski. 2013. Functions of nominal classification. LanguageSciences 40: 263–299.

  • Corbett, G.G. 1979. The agreement hierarchy. JournalofLinguistics 15: 203–224.

  • Corbett, G.G. 1991. Gender. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Corbett, G.G. 2012. Features. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Corbett, G.G. 2013a. Chapter 30: Number of Genders. In M.S. Dryer and M. Haspelmath (eds.), TheWorldAtlasofLanguageStructuresOnline. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Accessed online on 01/09/2019.

  • Corbett, G.G. 2013b. Chapter 31: Sex-based and non-sex-based gender systems. In M.S. Dryer and M. Haspelmath (eds.), TheWorldAtlasofLanguageStructuresOnline. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Accessed online on 01/09/2019.

  • Corbett, G.G. 2013c. Chapter 32: Systems of gender assignment. In M.S. Dryer and M. Haspelmath (eds.), TheWorldAtlasofLanguageStructuresOnline. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Accessed online on 01/09/2019.

  • Corbett, G.G. and S. Fedden. 2016. Canonical gender. JournalofLinguistics 52(3): 495–531.

  • Dahl, Ö. 2004. Thegrowthandmaintenanceoflinguisticcomplexity. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Dediu, D. and M. Cysouw. 2013. Some Structural Aspects of Language Are More Stable than Others: A Comparison of Seven Methods. PLoSONE 8(1): e55009.

  • Deo, A. and D. Sharma. 2007. Typological variation in the ergative morphology of Indo-Aryan languages. LinguisticTypology 10(3): 369–418.

  • Dhongde, R.V. and K. Wali. 2009. Marathi. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Di Garbo, F. 2014. Genderanditsinteractionwithnumberandevaluativemorphology:Anintra-andintergenealogicaltypologicalsurveyofAfrica. PhD dissertation, Stockholm University.

  • Dixon, R.M.W. 1986. Noun class and noun classification. In Craig, C. (ed.), Nounclassesandcategorization, 105–112. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Dunn, M. 2015. Language phylogenies. In TheRoutledgeHandbookofHistoricalLinguistics, 190–211. New York: Routledge.

  • Dunn, M., S.J. Greenhill, S.C. Levinson, and R.D. Gray. 2011. Evolved structure of language shows lineage-specific trends in word-order universals. Nature 473(7345): 79–82.

  • Dunn, M., N. Kruspe, and N. Burenhult. 2013. Time and place in the prehistory of the Aslian languages. HumanBiology 85(1): 383–400.

  • Eliasson, P. and M. Tang. 2018. The lexical and discourse functions of grammatical gender in Marathi. JournalofSouthAsianLanguagesandLinguistics 5(2): 131–157.

  • Freckleton, R.P., P.H. Harvey, and M. Pagel. 2002. Phylogenetic analysis and comparative data: a test and review of evidence. AmericanNaturalist 160: 712–726.

  • Gair, J.W. 2007. Sinhala. In G. Cardona and D. Jain (eds.), TheIndo-Aryanlanguages, 766–817. New York: Routledge.

  • Gil, D. 2013. Chapter 55: Numeral classifiers. In M.S. Dryer and M. Haspelmath (eds.), TheWorldAtlasofLanguageStructuresOnline. Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig. Accessed online on 01/09/2019.

  • Gowri-Shankar, V. and M. Rattray. 2007. A reversible jump method for Bayesian phylogenetic inference with a nonhomogeneous substitution model. MolecularBiologyandEvolution 24(6): 1286–1299.

  • Green, P.J. 1995. Markov chain Monte Carlo computation and Bayesian model determination. Biometrika 82: 711–732.

  • Grinevald, C. 2000. A morphosyntactic typology of classifiers. In Senft, G. (ed.), Systemsofnominalclassification, 50–92. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Grinevald, C. 2015. Linguistics of classifiers. In J.D. Wright (ed.), InternationalEncyclopediaoftheSocial&BehavioralSciences, 811–818. Oxford: Elsevier.

  • Hall, K. 2002. Unnatural gender in Hindi. In GenderacrossLanguages:TheLinguisticRepresentationofWomenandMen, 133–162. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

  • Hammarström, H., R. Forkel, and M. Haspelmath. 2019. Glottolog4.1. Jena: Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History.

  • Her, O.-S. 2012. Distinguishing classifiers and measure words: A mathematical perspective and implications. Lingua 122(14): 1668–1691.

  • Huelsenbeck, J.P. and F. Ronquist. 2001. MrBayes: Bayesian inference of phylogeny. Bioinformatics 17: 754–755.

  • Ives, A.R., P.E. Midford, and T. Garland Jr. 2007. Within-species variation and measurement error in phylogenetic comparative biology. SystematicBiology 56: 252–270.

  • Jeffreys, H. 1961. Theoryofprobability(3rded.). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Kalita, J.C. 2003. NounsandnominalisationsinAssamese:Amicrolinguisticstudy. PhD dissertation, Gauhati University.

  • Kemmerer, D. 2017a. Categories of object concepts across languages and brains: the relevance of nominal classification systems to cognitive neuroscience. Language,CognitionandNeuroscience 32(4): 401–424.

  • Kemmerer, D. 2017b. Some issues involving the relevance of nominal classification systems to cognitive neuroscience: response to commentators. Language,CognitionandNeuroscience 32(4): 447–456.

  • Khubchandani, L.M. 2003. Sindhi. In G. Cardona and D. Jain (eds.), TheIndo-Aryanlanguages, 683–721. New York: Routledge.

  • Kilarski, M. 2014. The Place of Classifiers in the History of Linguistics. HistoriographiaLinguistica 41(1): 33–79.

  • Kolipakam, V., F.M. Jordan, M. Dunn, S.J. Greenhill, R. Bouckaert, R.D. Gray, and A. Verkerk. 2018. A Bayesian phylogenetic study of the Dravidian language family. RoyalSocietyOpenScience 5(3): 1–17.

  • Levinson, S.C., S.J. Greenhill, R.D. Gray, and M. Dunn. 2011. Universal typological dependencies should be detectable in the history of language families. LinguisticTypology 15(2): 509–534.

  • Liljegren, H. 2018. Gender typology and gender (in)stability in Hindi Kush Indo-Aryan languages. In F. Di Garbo and B. Walchli (eds.), Grammaticalgenderandlinguisticcomplexity, 1–51. Berlin: Language Science Press.

  • MacDonell, A.A. 1999. AVedicgrammarforstudents. New Delhi: Printworld.

  • Mace, R. and C.J. Holden. 2005. A phylogenetic approach to cultural evolution. TrendsinEcology&Evolution 20(3): 116–121.

  • Masica, C.P. 1993. TheIndo-Aryanlanguages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Master, A. 1964. AgrammarofOldMarathi. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

  • Münkemüller, T., S. Lavergne, B. Bzeznik, S. Dray, T. Jombart, K. Schiffers, and W. Thuiller. 2012. How to measure and test phylogenetic signal: How to measure and test phylogenetic signal. MethodsinEcologyandEvolution 3(4): 743–756.

  • Pagel, M. 1994. Detecting correlated evolution on phylogenies: A general method for the comparative analysis of discrete characters. ProceedingsoftheRoyalSocietyofLondon. SeriesB:BiologicalSciences 255(1342): 37–45.

  • Pagel, M. 1999. Inferring the historical patterns of biological evolution. Nature 401: 877–884.

  • Pandharipande, R. 2014. Marathi. In G. Cardona and D. Jain (eds.), TheIndo-Aryanlanguages, 766–802. New York: Routledge.

  • Perder, E. 2013. AgrammaticaldescriptionofDameli. PhD dissertation, Stockholm University.

  • Peterson, J. 2017. Fitting the pieces together: Towards a linguistic prehistory of eastern-central South Asia (and beyond). JournalofSouthAsianLanguagesandLinguistics 4(2): 211–257.

  • Phillips, M.P. 2012. DialectcontinuumintheBhiltribalbelt:Grammaticalaspects. PhD dissertation, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

  • Popescu, A.A., K.T. Huber, and E. Paradis. 2012. Ape 3.0: New tools for distance based phylogenetics and evolutionary analysis in R. Bioinformatics 28: 1536–1537.

  • Priestly, T. 1983. On drift in Indo-European gender systems. JournalofIndo-EuropeanStudies 11: 339–363.

  • R-Core-Team. 2020. R:Alanguageandenvironmentforstatisticalcomputing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna.

  • Rambaut, A., A.J. Drummond, D. Xie, G. Baele, and M.A. Suchard. 2018. Posterior summarisation in Bayesian phylogenetics using Tracer 1.7. SystematicBiology, 901–904.

  • Revell, L.J. 2012. Phytools: An R package for phylogenetic comparative biology (and other things). MethodsEcol. Evol., 3: 217–223.

  • Ronquist, F. and J.P. Huelsenbeck. 2003. MrBayes 3: Bayesian phylogenetic inference under mixed models. Bioinformatics 19: 1572–1574.

  • Schliep, K.P. 2011. Phangorn: Phylogenetic analysis in R. Bioinformatics 27(4): 592–593.

  • Senft, G. 2000. Systemsofnominalclassification. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Siewierska, A. 2004. Person. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Siewierska, A. 2013. Chapter 44: Gender distinctions in independent personal pronouns. In M.S. Dryer and M. Haspelmath (eds.), TheWorldAtlasofLanguageStructuresOnline. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. Accessed online on 01/09/2019.

  • Singer, R. 2016. Thedynamicsofnominalclassification:productiveandlexicalisedusesofgenderagreementinMawng. Number 642 in Pacific Linguistics. Boston: De Gruyter Mouton.

  • Yadav, R. 2007. Maithili. In G. Cardona and D. Jain (eds.), TheIndo-Aryanlanguages, 477–497. New York: Routledge.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 420 420 30
Full Text Views 29 29 0
PDF Views & Downloads 32 32 0