Combining gender and classifiers in natural language

Workshop on Gender and Classifiers: Cross-linguistic Perspectives

The Workshop on Gender and Classifiers: Cross-linguistic Perspectives was held 17 January 2014 in Room 75MS02, Rik Medlik Building, University of Surrey as part of the project Combining gender and classifiers in natural language.


Gender and classifiers are usually thought of as mutually exclusive systems of noun categorization. In a gender system, as for example in Italian or German, nouns are assigned one or more genders on a semantic or formal basis, and the genders of the language can be defined by sets of markers on agreement targets. In a classifier system, as we find it in Chinese or Vietnamese for instance, a noun appears with a semantically compatible classifier in certain contexts, e.g. quantification with a numeral. But recent research has turned up more and more languages (mostly Papuan, South American, and Australian) in which the two co-occur together, yielding overlapping and interacting systems of classification. This is an exciting and new area of enquiry which promises to expand our understanding of the semantics and morphology of classification, and of cognitive categories in general.


17 January, 2014

09.00-09.25 Welcome coffee
09.25-09.30 Greville G. Corbett, Welcome and introduction
09.30-10.30 Gunter Senft, Systems of nominal classification
10.30-11.15 Maria Polinsky, The differential representation of number and gender
11.15-11.45 Coffee break
11.45-12.15 Sebastian Fedden and Greville Corbett, Gender and classifiers combined: Mian and its typological context
12.15-12.45 Pier Marco Bertinetto and Luca Ciucci, Possessive classifiers in gender-marking Ayoreo and Chamacoco
12.45-13.15 Natalia Eraso, Gender and classifiers in the Tanimuka language - Colombia
13.15-14.30 Lunch break
14.30-15.00 Alexandra Clifford, The relationship between noun categorisation and perceptual categorisation: A developmental and cross-linguistic approach
15.00-15.30 Colette Grinevald and Orly Goldwasser, At the crossroad of gender and classifiers in Ancient Egyptian
15.30-16.00 Serge Sagna, On the categorisation of body parts and loanwords in the Gújjolaay Eegimaa noun class/gender system
16.00-16.30 Coffee break
16.30-17.00 Matthias Passer, The twofold nature of nominal categorisation: Shifting from semantics to morphosyntax?
17.00-17.30 Kate Bellamy and Rita Eloranta, Mochica: Between a numeral classifier and a special counting system

Download the abstracts booklet [PDF]

Project members

Prof Greville G. Corbett
Dr Matthew Baerman
Dr Dunstan Brown (University of York)
Dr Sebastian Fedden
Dr Timothy Feist


Prof Maria Polinsky (University of Maryland)
Prof Gunter Senft (Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen)

Period of award:

April 2013 - May 2016


Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)