The present article, as the title shows, is a study of the grammatical gender in Spanish from the semantic startpoint, as have are of opinion that linguistic reference is bound up with grammatical motivation. It deals with the gender of nouns will bear the sign [+ animate], and in particular those presenting a high sememic level (common semantic level) and another oppositional sememic (distintive semantic level). We state that [± animate] is a semantic feature capable of serging to motivate grammatical gender. To give an example, it seems demonstrable that nouns in Spanish which are sensible to the features [+anim, -spec] and [+anim, ±spec] (for example: niño1 / niñO2 / niñA) have got a fixed gender in the first case (niño1) and a variable gender in the second (niñ02 / niñA), the second —but not the first— beening determined by reference to sex. We have also demonstrated the following points: a) Among the items which show an opposition of gender, the superordinate (niño1) will always be non-arked; b) the frequency with which this appears is approximately double the specific term. This distinction explains heteronyms of the type macho / hembra, hombre / mujer, etc., as generative lexic-semantic opposites of grammatical gender of the type hombre1 / hombre2 / mujer. We also affirm with regard to Spanish linguistic and metalinguistic capacity, and, 2) Spanish shows a strong tendency to differenciate between the sexes by means of sometimes unusual lexical creations, such as culebrO or mushúA (a women of foreign origin in Venezuela) and at other times by quite acceptable creations, as we find in the political, technical or juridical terrains. When Spanish lacks a lexical of morphological form to distinguish gender, it does so by means of the article or the demonstrative. In the present article we have referred particularly to the semantic distinction «sex». Nevertheless, our theory is valid for other dimensions as well, as long as they are capable of being specified as [± generic]. Finally, we state that gender is manifested in concordance and is frequently redundant.
Género gramatical; Operador semántico; Diferencias de género; Morfema gramatical; Término marcado; Nombre; Lengua española
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