Languages that have a grammatical gender system assign all nouns to one of two or more classes called ‘genders’. ‘Grammatical gender’ (GG) is reflected in ‘agreement’, i.e., the GG of a noun determines changes in the form of constituents that refer to the noun or accompany it (for an overview, see Corbett, 1991, 2006). In many Indo-European languages grammatical gender (GG) has two or three categories: Italian has two, ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’, German has three, the previous two plus ‘neuter’. In both languages gender agreement shows in determiners (e.g., articles il/lo and la in Italian; der, die, and das in German), in adjectives, and in anaphoric pronouns. For instance, a German speaker asking for a knife, a spoon, or a fork has to use a male, female, or neuter pronoun (Gib ihn/sie/ es mir mal herüber, ‘pass (masculine/feminine/neuter) it to me’). An Italian speaker would use a masculine lo for ‘knife’ and ‘spoon’, and feminine la for ‘fork’ (passamelo vs passamela). The grammatical gender of a noun is determined by ‘gender assignment’, a system of semantic and/or formal rules for grammatical gender. In Italian and German, assignment is partly semantic (male referents are mostly grammatically masculine and female referents are mostly grammatically feminine) and partly formal (depending on the form of the noun rather than on the sex of the referent). In these languages therefore gender assignment partly reflects biological sex, being used for female and male beings (like ‘natural’, or ‘semantic’, gender); however, gender is assigned not only to nouns of sexed beings, but also to nouns of artifacts, natural kinds, and abstract concepts. Thus, ‘assignment rules’ are semantically arbitrary (albeit largely formally justified). In both Italian and German there are phonological and morphological rules. In Italian, most masculine nouns end in -o (plural -i) and most feminine ones end in -a (plural -e), although there are nouns ending in -e as well as exceptions. In German, some endings regularly co-occur with masculine or feminine gender (e.g., 90% of nouns ending in schwa /ə/ are feminine; 65% of those ending in -el/en/er are masculine). While German gender

assignment depends on declensional class, the system is complicated because nouns are also marked for number and case. The German gender system is therefore less transparent than the Italian one.