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Asymmetric inflection in Berber: the view from gender

Abstract : This paper examines the distribution of grammatical markers in Tashlhiyt Berber nouns, with special attention to the gender marker. It asks why the feminine marker [t] is both prefixed and suffixed to the nominal stem, and what underlies the cooccurrence restrictions it obeys when combined with other grammatical markers. Based on evidence from native and loanwords morphology, it is proposed that the canonical locus of gender is suffixal and that its alleged circumfixal nature results from a copy of a +GEN feature to an obligatory affixal position to the left of the stem. As a result, a prefixal [t] appears whenever the noun is feminine and the prefixal position is available. This systematically happens in native nouns, as opposed to loanwords, whose semantically null prefix [l] prevents the feminine prefix from being realized. The proposal also explains several otherwise unmotivated facts in the nominal morphology, namely (i) the absence in Tashlihiyt Berber of consonant-initial nouns, (ii) the lack of feminine nouns beginning with a [tC] cluster in the free state, and (iii) the ubiquity of the prefix [l] in borrowed nouns. Evaluative morphology provides further evidence for the prefixal position in loanwords and in compounds: since their prefixal position is occupied by the [l] prefix and the bound noun [bu] 'owner of/characterized by', their augmentatives and diminutives undergo a process of thematization which entails the addition of another prefixal position, e.g. [l-kamjun] 'truck' / [a-lkamjun] (AUG).
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Contributor : Mohamed Lahrouchi <>
Submitted on : Friday, December 11, 2020 - 12:03:20 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, April 28, 2021 - 6:46:21 PM
Long-term archiving on: : Friday, March 12, 2021 - 7:25:26 PM


Tashlhiyt Gender markers-Faust...
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  • HAL Id : halshs-03054108, version 1


Noam Faust, Mohamed Lahrouchi. Asymmetric inflection in Berber: the view from gender. 2020. ⟨halshs-03054108⟩



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