University of Adelaide
There is little correlation between the existence of a system of gender in Pama-Nyungan languages and the inclusion of a discussion of these systems under the heading “Gender” in early grammatical sources.
Of the small minority of Pama-Nyungan languages which have a system of gender, a handful exhibit systems of noun classes in which agreement is marked on a nominal modifier (Dixon 2002:450-453). Only one of these languages, Minjungbal, was described in the nineteenth century (Livingstone 1892). Another comparably small group of about a dozen Pama-Nyungan languages make a two-way gender distinction in third person pronouns (Dixon 2002:461). A disproportionate number of these are among the few Australian languages that were grammatically described in the pre-contemporary era. They are Hunter River Lake Macquarie language/Awabakal (henceforth HRLM) described by Threlkeld (1834); Diyari, described by four Lutheran missionaries between 1868 and 1899 (Flierl 1880; W. Koch 1868; Reuther 1981; Schoknecht 1947); Minjungbal, described by Livingstone (1892); Pitta Pitta, described by Roth (1897); and Kala Lagaw Ya, described by Ray (1893).
Grammars written in the classical European tradition employing the framework and schema of Traditional Grammar (see Koch 2008:87) discuss the grammatical category Gender within an initial chapter dedicated to the word-class Nouns. Gender is presented alongside the two nominal inflectional categories, Number and Case (see for example Ramshorn 1824 and Gildersleeve 1895). In recognition of the lack of grammatical gender in Pama-Nyungan languages, some grammarians abandon the traditional category altogether (Taplin 1867, 1872; Ridley 1875; Günther 1892). Others state that the language has no gender (Teichelmann and Schürmann 1840:4; Meyer 1843:10; Taplin 1880:7; Kempe 1891:2; Strehlow n.d, n.page). Lutheran missionary C. Schürmann for instance, who co-published the second grammatical description of an Australian language with Teichelmann (Kaurna 1840) and a second description of a related South Australian language shortly after (Barngarla 1844) noted:
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