Exploring the Developmental Stages of Amharic Nominal and Verbal Gender: Evidence for processability theory



Alemu,H. & D.Ado



Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia; Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia








The purpose of this article is twofold. First, it explores the order of the development of nominal and verbal gender of Amharic, which is one of the Ethio-Semitic languages. Second, it provides empirical evidence for the typological plausibility of processability theory (PT). In fact, PT has been tested in typologically different languages (e.g., English, Italian, and Japan); however, it does not have any validation from Ethiopian languages in general and Ethio-Semitic languages in particular yet. Relevant data was collected from sixteen respondents via picture description tasks, short storytelling, interviews, story re-telling, and spot the difference tasks. Distributional analysis was conducted for the analysis, and the point of emergence of target structures was determined using the emergence criteria. Accordingly, the result shows that the development of gender assignment is compatible with processability theory’s predictions in that lexical procedure precedes phrasal procedure, which is followed by S-procedure. Moreover, the masculine gender emerged earlier than its feminine counterpart at all developmental stages. However, subject agreement markers in pro-drop context emerged at stage two preceding subject-verb agreement. This finding is against processability theory’s claim that suggests subject agreement markers only emerge at stage four of the processability hierarchy disregarding their stages of development in pro-drop context in particular.


processability theory, gender agreement, developmental stages, morpho- syntax, Amharic interlanguage


doi: 10.26478/ja2022.10.16.2


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