The gender assignment pattern of French nouns

TitleThe gender assignment pattern of French nouns
Publication TypeArticle de revue
Année de publication2016
AuthorsFathi, Radwa, and Jean Lowenstamm

Gender exponence in underived French nouns is particularly opaque. In this paper, we identify two subsystems of gender assignment: monogendered nouns, bi-gendered nouns; we show what they share and where they diverge. We show how the notorious floating final consonants of the language are handled in each subsystem for purposes of gender exponence. Our analysis and proposals develop in two steps: (a) we elaborate on the internal structure of {\textsurd}P, arguing that it is more richly articulated than had been assumed in previous work; (b) we propose that a gender feature sitting on n probes into its complement {\textsurd}P for valuation. Our proposal opens a range of selectional options of {\textsurd}P by n. These selectional options along with the probing device they feed, are shown to account for the French evidence.