David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Modern Standard German does not have distinct forms for nominatives and accusatives in the feminine gender. This is not only unique within Germanic languages, but also quite remarkable from a typological and functional viewpoint, under the plausible assumption that feminine NPs do not differ in animacy from masculine NPs. I will discuss the loss of the N/A distinction for feminines in detail and speculate about possible reasons – among others, that the referents of feminines are not typically animate, that the syncretism was modelled after a similar syncretism in the plural, and that a sexist bias of the speech community in which the syncretism originated influenced a core part of the grammar of their language.
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