Neutralization of gender distinctions in Modern Hebrew numerals

Dorit Ravid*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Gender distinctions constitute one of the central grammatical categories in Hebrew grammar and are closely related to number distinctions. Both are acquired early on, since they apply to almost every morphological category: three major classes of content words, as well as two classes of function words. Feminine words are marked by suffixal -a and -t, while masculine words carry either a zero or -e suffix. A small class of what might be termed “numeral noun classifiers” are supposed to agree in gender with their head nouns, but carry a mirror-image gender marking, resulting in rule opacity. The subjects, 40 children (20 fourth graders, 20 seventh graders) from a lower middle-class background, were tested on gender markings of numerals in two situations involving monitored and unmonitored situations. The results indicate the disappearance of gender agreement in Modern Hebrew numerals and a reanalysis of numeral suffixes by speakers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-100
Number of pages22
JournalLanguage Variation and Change
Volume7
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1995

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