Abstract

Gender polarity is an intriguing morphological phenomenon in Arabic. The numerals 3–10 take the gender opposite to that of their count nouns; that is, when the count noun is feminine, the numerals 3–10 appear in the masculine form, and vice versa. Earlier analyses (see, e.g., Alqassas 2013, 2017, Alqarni 2015) proposed that the numerals 3–10 bear an inherent feminine feature, which is deleted by an impoverishment rule in the presence of a feminine feature on the count noun, yielding gender polarity. This article provides empirical counterevidence to these analyses and the concept of gender polarity on the whole. It shows that the numerals 3–10 do not interact with the gender of the count noun; rather, they interact with the count noun’s morphology—that is, whether the count noun bears the morpheme /at/ or /a:tu/-/a:ti/ in its structure. These findings suggest that gender polarity in Arabic is a misnomer; the phenomenon should instead be termed morpheme polarity. Rather than implementing the impoverishment rules proposed in earlier analyses, this article uses readjustment rules to account for the morpheme polarity at hand.

This content is only available as a PDF.