Gender Mismatches and Ellipsis in Cayuga

Volume 17
Issue 3
Michael Barrie
This paper discusses a kind of ellipsis in Cayuga (Northern Iroquoian) known as stripping. We show that while person, number and gender feature mismatches are generally tolerated in this construction, gender mismatches are not tolerated with most predicate nouns referring to humans. Merchant (2014) discusses gender mismatches under ellipsis in Greek human nominals and proposes that certain human nouns are lexically encoded to presuppose the gender of their respective referents. We show that Merchant’s general proposal can be accommodated to the Cayuga facts, the specifics of his proposal cannot be carried over. We reject the lexicalist stance in Merchant’s proposal and instead propose that human noun roots in Cayuga carry an interpretable humanness feature [H], which is obligatorily valued for gender. It is this interpretable [H] feature that gives rise to the lack of tolerance for gender mismatches on human predicate nouns

Keywords: Iroquoian, ellipsis, stripping, gender, humanness