Documentation for the Grammar Matrix Customization Gender Library


This document explains how to fill out the Gender page of the Grammar Matrix Customization questionnaire and presents background information on the gender library of the Grammar Matrix Customization System (Bender et al., 2002; Bender and Flickinger, 2005; Bender et al., 2010). General instructions on using the questionnaire can be found here.

Citing the Gender Library

The standard reference for the Gender Library and its implementations is Drellishak 2009. The full reference and .bib entry can be found here.


On the gender page in Matrix Customization you are asked to describe the gender marking in your language (i.e. feminine, masculine, neuter). This can be defined as a hierarchy. The gender library allows you to specify the range of values for the feature GENDER that will be available elsewhere in the customization system and in the resulting grammar (see more on that in the Analyses section below). The complexity of gender hierarchy depends on the language. The number of genders and their supertypes that you can enter in the questionnaire is unlimited. Such flexibility of Matrix customization mechanism allows users to cover languages with extensive gender hierarchies.

Note that feature values defined on the lexicon and morphology pages may affect the hierarchy of gender. Underspecifications in the lexicon or morphosyntax will automatically be integrated in the hierarchy of gender: you do not need to define these explicitly on the gender page.

Using dropdown menu, please add genders and their supertypes as applicable to your language. Please note that like person, the Grammar Matrix currently only deals with gender insofar as it is expressed grammatically, i.e. through some form of agreement. If your language does not express gender through agreement (for example, English or Mandarin Chinese), please leave this section blank and move on to the next page of the questionnaire. If your language expresses gender through agreement, please add genders and their supertypes as applicable. Below are examples of options chosen for two languages with different gender hierarchies:

(1). Russian has 3 genders, with a 'one-level' gender hierarchy. They are feminine, masculine, and neuter, all of which have "gender" as their supertype:

(2). Tamil has 4 genders with a 'two-level' gender hierarchy, in which rational gender is further subdivided into feminine and masculine genders and is therefore recorded as their supertype:

For more information on how to use the questionnaire to define gender values for your language, please refer to the Gender page in Matrix Customization.

For more information on the implementation of gender in Grammar Matrix please refer to the next section Analyses.


If you define a gender hierarchy, your starter grammar will include a feature [GEND gender] for GENDER, with values based on the choices you made on the Gender customization page. Note that similar to NUMBER and PERSON, GENDER is a feature of the nominal INDEX. Making GENDER a feature of semantic INDEX instead of syntactic HEAD allows for correct semantic representation of gender in your grammar and helps avoiding spurious ambiguity during generation.

The choices you make in the questionnaire are recorded in the choices file, which is a Unicode text file. Below is an example of a gender section in the choices file of a language with feminine, masculine, and neuter genders:


This will be reflected in the your_language_name.tdl file:

png :+ [ PER person,
    NUM number, 
    GEND gender].

;;; Gender

 gender := *top*.
 masc := gender.
 fem := gender.
 neut := gender.

The values you assign to the GENDER feature will be available to use later in the customization system, especially the Morphology and Lexicon pages. Gender will appear as one of the features of the lexical rule types on Morphology page and as one of the features of the lexical types on Lexicon page.

The choices you make on the Gender customization page will also affect the lexical types (your_language_name.tdl file), lexical rules (lrules.tdl file), and inflectional rules (irules.tdl file).

GENDER is a feature often involved in agreement phenomena. These are handled through the lexicon and morphology libraries. The analyses of agreement implemented in the Grammar Matrix are described in Drellishak 2009, Section 5.2.

For more information regarding the analyses implemented in the gender library please refer to Drellishak 2009, Section 5.3.

Note that feature values defined on the Lexicon and Morphology pages may affect the hierarchy of gender. Underspecifications in the lexicon or morphosyntax will automatically be integrated in the hierarchy of gender: you do not need to define these explicitly on the gender page.

Upcoming Work


Bender, E., & Flickinger, D. (2005). Rapid prototyping of scalable grammars: Towards modularity in extensions to a language-independent core. In Proceedings of the 2nd International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing IJCNLP-05 (Posters/Demos), Jeju Island, Korea.

Drellishak, S. (2009). Widespread but Not Universal: Improving the Typological Coverage of the Grammar Matrix. PhD thesis, University of Washington.

MatrixDoc/Gender (last edited 2013-03-01 19:18:42 by VaryaGracheva)

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