Gender marking is a way of explicitly signalling that a linguistic expression refers to a male or female being (person or animal). This can be achieved by various linguistic means, e. g., attributive adjectives as in the phrase male nurse, female kangaroo, appositions such as in Russian женщина врач ‘woman doctor’ and by word-formation: compounding, as in Turkish erkek öğretmen ‘man teacher’ for ‘male teacher’, German Papageienweibchen ‘parrot female’ or affixation as in Russian учительница ‘female teacher’. The crucial point shared by all these examples is that the semantic feature of gender is signalled by a recurrent and identifiable marker, since not all gender-specific nouns denoting persons carry such a marker. Thus, e. g., the Turkish kinship terms oğul ‘son’ or kız ‘daughter’ are gender-specific by means of their semantics, not their form or grammatical features (since there is no grammatical gender in Turkish), and therefore do not fall under gender marking as defined here. On the other hand, the same kinship terms in Italian figlio ‘son’ and figlia ‘daughter’ signal their gender-specificity by the endings -o and -a, respectively, and so are included in the definition. Similarly, Russian супруг ‘male spouse’ and супруга ‘female spouse’ signal their gender-specificity, however, as I will argue, not so much by their endings – which is zero in the case of супруг – as by their grammatical gender.
I will focus on the role that grammatical gender plays in gender marking. Grammatical gender is defined as a classificatory feature of all nouns of a language that is obligatorily signalled by agreement (following Zaliznjak 1967). This classification is semantically related to maleness and femaleness.