david_tuggy at sil.org
Tue Apr 5 02:59:12 UTC 2011
I'm interested in a phenomenon that I understand some to have called
"associative plurality", in which a plural does not designate a group of
items all properly designated by the pluralized nominal entity but
rather a group of items associated with such a nominal entity. It shows
up dramatically in pluralized personal names, where something like _the
Alices_ will mean not 'the group of people each called "Alice"' but
rather 'Alice and those associated with her (i.e. her
bunch/family/team/crew/party/etc.)' In Orizaba Nawatl (nlv), for instance,
New͎itzeh n ichpopochtih koxamo tlahtlaniskeh inka n Samueltih.
yonder.they.come the girl.pl whether they.will.ask with.them the Samuel.pl
Those girls that are coming over there are probably going to ask after
Samuel and his friends.
Here girl.pl is a normal plural, meaning 'group of people each of which
is a girl', but Samuel.pl is associative. Note too the plurality of the
'agreement-marker' postpositional object in the word 'with.them':
sometimes that kind of thing is the only marker for an associative
plural in Orizaba: _Samuel inkal_ (Samuel their.house) means 'the house
of Samuel's family/group'.
My two main questions:
(1) How widespread a phenomenon is this? What languages allow an
associative plural for proper names? (Are there any varieties of
English/Spanish/etc. that allow it?) Do they also allow a
(2) What other kinds of nominal entities show something similar? E.g. in
my English _dishes_ often means 'dishes [= plates] and other such
things, e.g. silverware, glasses, pots & pans'; does that count? Does
any language allow associative plurals for just any noun? What about 1st
and 2nd person plural pronouns, where perhaps only one person is speaker
or addressee, but another group is associated with that person to make
the plurality. Does any language *not* allow an associative plural
meaning for them? Does any language distinguish a 'multiple speaker' 1pl
pronoun from an associative one?
Pointers to any good discussions of this in the literature would be
appreciated as well.
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