A Study on the Origins of the Indo-European Feminine Grammatical Gender
Francisco José Ledo-Lemos
Universidad de Salamanca
The grammatical feminine gender was developed by Indo-European in relatively recent times, and was superimposed on an older system of two genders (animate / inanimate). The virtual totality of Indo-Europeanists would agree with this affirmation; but there is no agreement between researchers over the factors which led to the emergence of this new gender.
By analyzing the diverse uses of the suffix *-eH2-, Karl Brugmann managed to explain why the feminine grammatical gender includes many words which are not semantically feminine. Brugmann's perspective is still substantially correct, but, in the exact terms in which he formulated this theory (more than a hundred years ago), it cannot give a satisfactory explanation to three important questions: (1) How did the diversity of uses of the suffix *-(e)H2- originate? (2) How did some adjectives develop specific forms for feminine agreement? (3) Why are the â-stems and the thematic declension in complementary distribution?
The different theories that have been proposed since Brugmann can sometimes answer one or (at best) two of these questions, but there is not a theory which can resolve the three questions simultaneously. Such a theory is, precisely, the object of the present study.
ISBN 9783895864230. LINCOM Studies in Indo-European Linguistics 21. 240 pp. 2000.