This book explores grammatical gender in the Romance languages and dialects and its evolution from Latin. Michele Loporcaro investigates the significant diversity found in the Romance varieties in this regard; he draws on data from the Middle Ages to the present from all the Romance languages and dialects, discussing examples from Romanian to Portuguese and crucially also focusing on less widely-studied varieties such as Sursilvan, Neapolitan, and Asturian. The
investigation first reveals that several varieties display more complex systems than the binary masculine/feminine contrast familiar from modern French or Italian. Moreover, it emerges that traditional accounts, whereby neuter gender was lost in the spoken Latin of the late Empire, cannot be correct:
instead, the neuter gender underwent a range of different transformations from Late Latin onwards, which are responsible for the different systems that can be observed today across the Romance languages. The volume provides a detailed description of many of these systems, which in turns reveals a wealth of fascinating data, such as varieties where 'husbands' are feminine and others where 'wives' are masculine; dialects in which nouns overtly mark gender, but only in certain syntactic contexts;
and one Romance variety (Asturian) in which it appears that grammatical gender has split into two concurrent systems.
The volume will appeal to linguists from a range of backgrounds, including Romance linguistics, historical linguistics, typology, and morphosyntax, and is also of relevance to those working in sociology, gender studies, and psychology.
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Michele Loporcaro is Professor of Romance Linguistics at the University of Zurich. He previously held positions at the Universities of Padua and Cosenza, in addition to visiting professorships at several universities in Europe and the USA and visiting fellowships at Magdalen College, Oxford (2012) and the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (2013-14), and the Italian Academy for Advances Studies in America at Columbia University in the City of New York (2017). In 2012, he
received the Antonio Feltrinelli prize for his work in Italian linguistics. His research interests include historical linguistics, linguistic historiography, and the phonology, morphology, and syntax of Italo-Romance linguistic varieties. His work has been published widely in many journals and he is
the author of several books, including Profilo linguistico dei dialetti italiani (Laterza 2009; 3rd edn. 2013), and Vowel Length from Latin to Romance (OUP 2015).
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