Gender in Proto-Indo-European and the feminine morphemes
Dreier, Nicole Elizabeth
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The three-gender system seen in the core Indo-European languages is not the oldest gender system in Proto-Indo-European (PIE). There is evidence of an earlier animacy-based, two-gender system in PIE, which raises the question of how the third gender (i.e. the feminine) came to be. Its origins are made even more uncertain by the feminizing suffixes *-(e)h2-, *-ih2-, and *-i-hx-, as they show older functions, such as deriving collective and abstract nouns. This thesis outlines some of the many explanations scholars have offered for these questions over the last two centuries and ultimately argues that a combination of these and other factors may have been involved in this change to the PIE gender system.