Gender is not restricted here to oppositions like male vs. female or to masculine vs. feminine vs. neuter as in most European languages; gender also subsumes oppositions such as animate vs. non-animate or the Bantu noun class systems.
Although most European languages (and others) display gender distinctions in personal pronouns, many APiCS languages lexically based on these languages do not, be they dependent (i.e. bound to the verb, as in Papiamentu Mi ta traha. ‘I am working’) or independent (i.e. standing alone as, for instance, in elliptical answers; cf. Papiamentu Ken ta traha? – Ami. ‘Who is working?- Me.’).
If in the APiCS languages gender distinctions do exist, they almost exclusively distinguish male from female referents. The only exceptions are Kikongo-Kituba, Lingala, and Michif, where the distinction is between animates and inanimates (see example 9).
This feature parallels WALS feature 44 (Siewierska 2005a).
We distinguish the following values:
|No gender distinctions||58|
|In 3rd person singular only||12|
|In 3rd person singular and plural only||4|
|In 2nd person but not in 3rd person||2|
As the value box shows, most APiCS languages (about 75%) make no gender distinctions in personal pronouns.
Value 1 (no gender distinctions in pronouns) occurs in pidgin languages (examples 1 and 2) and in creole languages of various lexical bases (examples 3-7).
Of the 12 languages exhibiting value 2 (gender distinction in third person singular only; about 17% of the APiCS languages), nine are English-based, two are Portuguese-based, and one is Dutch-based. In these languages, the gender distinction of the lexifier was retained.
Value 3 (gender distinctions in third person singular and plural only) occurs in Kikongo-Kituba, Lingala, Michif, and Sri Lanka Portuguese. In Sri Lanka Portuguese, the distinction is between masculine and feminine referents (as in the Portuguese lexifier), whereas in Kikongo-Kituba, Lingala, and Michif it is between animates and inanimates. In Michif, the gender distinction has been retained from Cree and is restricted to dependent pronouns. In the case of Kikongo-Kituba and Lingala, the gender distinction represents a drastic reduction of the Bantu noun class system.
Value 4 (gender distinctions in the 2nd person, but not in the 3rd person) is restricted to Cape Verdean Creole of Brava and Cape Verdean Creole of Santiago; note, however, that it is only realized in polite pronouns: nho (< Portuguese senhor ‘Sir’) vs. nha ‘you (f.)’ (< Portuguese senhora ‘Madam’); in the informal pronoun of the second person, bo, there is no gender distinction. In the third Cape Verdean variety contained in the APiCS, the São Vicente variety, there is no gender distinction in the polite pronoun, which is bosé ‘you’ (as opposed to the informal bo).
Value 1 (no gender distinction) is found all over the world. Value 2 (gender distinctions in the third person singular only) occurs predominantly in English-based languages, but only in roughly one third of these languages. Half of the languages displaying value 2, i.e. six languages, are found in North America and the Caribbean; two languages are found in Africa, one in South Asia, two in Southeast Asia, and two in the Pacific.
Our APiCS feature is not directly comparable with WALS feature 44 (Siewierska 2005a), because the WALS feature is concerned exclusively with independent personal pronouns, whereas in the APiCS feature, no distinction is made between independent and dependent personal pronouns.
Two WALS values are not represented in the APiCS: (1) gender distinctions in third person and in first and/or second person, (2) gender distinctions in third person non-singular only.
The APiCS languages only display gender distinctions in third persons, except for the two Cape Verdean varieties mentioned above, where a gender distinction is made in polite 2nd person pronouns. There is, however, a parallel between the WALS and the APiCS data: 67% of the WALS languages do not display gender distinctions in independent pronouns, which parallels the 76% of the APiCS languages whose pronouns, independent or not, do not show gender distinctions; 16% of the WALS languages show gender distinctions in 3rd person singular only, which parallels the 17% of those APiCS languages which have this same value.
The absence of gender distinctions in 75% of the APiCS languages can certainly be attributed to the general process of morphological reduction in (extreme) contact situations; this process may have been reinforced by the fact that most West African and South East Asian substrate languages lack gender distinctions .