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Evolution of genderlects in the Tupi family

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Genderlects are the pragmatic indexing of the gender of the speaker and/or addressee in the speech of a language community, including utterances that do not actually refer to the speech act participants. Genderlects can be manifested in a language’s phonology, lexicon, and/or morphology. In the case of categorical genderlects, speakers must use a phoneme/lexeme/morpheme rather than another on the basis of their own gender or that of the addressee.

E.g. in Siriono men and women use different terms for the same monkey species (Gasparini 2015)
kiracha (female) ~ tendi (male) ‘Venezuelan red howler’
isaa (female) ~ ngü (male) ‘black-capped squirrel monkey’
kjaü (female) ~ kjiein (male) ‘tufted capuchin’

Genderlects are rare crosslinguistically, but well represented within the Tupí language family (18 out of the 70 languages have genderlects). In this project, we are investigating the typological variability of genderlects within the Tupí family, as well as their emergence and evolution. Our approach combines the comparative method and phylogenetic methods.

Gasparini, Noé & Dicarere Mendez, Victor Hugo. 2015. Diccionario Siriono-Castellano-Ingles, ms.


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