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The fourth seminar in our third season of Greek Dialogues Online, features Professor Anna Roussou, Professor of Linguistics at the University of Patras, Greece and Lewis-Gibson Visiting Fellow, asks whether the grammatical structure of the Greek language is inherently biased towards one gender. (Access details below.)

Greek has a three-way distinction in the grammatical gender (masculine, feminine, neuter), which defines nominal declension classes (Corbett 2014). Gender on the noun also triggers concord between the noun, its modifying adjective and the article (o neos dhaskalos: all three elements are masculine). In general, grammatical gender is distinguished from biological sex or sociocultural gender.

When it comes to humans, and in particular to professional names, e.g., ‘doctor’, ‘teacher’, grammatical and ‘natural’ gender tend to match e.g., dhaskal-os (masculine) vs dhaskal-a (feminine) in some cases, with distinct formations, while in other cases the masculine (of the -os or -as) is the form that covers both genders. The latter are known as epicene. In this case the gender distinction is only marked syntactically on the article, e.g., o jiatros vs i jatros (the doctor). Quite often epicene nouns are associated with professional names of a high status.

What is it then that determines preference for the masculine declension even in cases where a feminine one is morphologically available? Is the masculine taken as a generic form for all genders on grammatical or on sociocultural grounds? Can external (sociocultural) factors on language use impose new lexical and morphosyntactic formations? Similarly, how does grammar treat the issue of ‘inclusive gender’ both in oral and written speech? Do we stick to a generic masculine form, or do we seek alternatives based on the binary coordination (e.g., fitites ke fititries=students.masuline and students.feminine) or even a new form that covers all genders (e.g., ta fitita, to fititario)?

Event Access Details

This is hybrid event, live and streamed online.

The talk will be held in Room Gr 06/07 in the Faculty of English Building, 9 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DP.

Topic: Greek Dialogues Online - Is Greek a sexist language? At the crossroad between grammar and language use
Time: 6th November, 2022 at 06:30 PM GMT

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 960 7013 2792
Passcode: 591327


Livestreaming on:

: The Cambridge Centre for Greek Studies Channel

Facebook: CCGS Cambridge | Facebook

Tuesday, 6 December, 2022 - 18:30
Event location: