Gender is a fascinating category, central and pervasive in some languages and totally absent in others. In this new, comprehensive account of gender systems, over 200 languages are discussed, from English and Russian to Archi and Chichewa. Detailed analysis of individual languages provides clear illustrations of specific types of system. Gender distinction is often based on sex; sometimes this is only one criterion and the gender of nouns depends on other factors (thus 'house' is masculine in Russian, feminine in French and neuter in Tamil). Some languages have comparable distinctions such as human/non-human, animate/inanimate, where sex is irrelevant. No other textbook surveys gender across this range of languages. Gender will be invaluable both for class use and as a reference resource for students and researchers in linguistics.
1. Introduction; 2. Gender assignment I: semantic systems; 3. Gender assignment II: formal systems; 4. The psycholinguistic status of gender assignment; 5. Gender agreement; 6. Establishing the number of genders; 7. Target genders: syncretism and enforced gender forms; 8. Hybrid nouns and the agreement hierarchy; 9. Gender resolution rules; 10. Generalisations and prospects; References; Author index; Language index; Subject index.