Associative plurals

Lise Menn lise.menn at Colorado.EDU
Tue Apr 5 03:11:09 UTC 2011

Japanese -tachi would be an example - added only (as I understand it)  
to personal names, and meaning 'X and those accompanying X'.  It can't  
be interpreted as a plural, to the best of my knowledge.
	Lise Menn

On Apr 4, 2011, at 8:59 PM, David Tuggy wrote:

> Hello, all,
> 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 whether they.will.ask with.them the  
> Those girls that are coming over there are probably going to ask  
> after Samuel and his friends.
> Here is a normal plural, meaning 'group of people each of  
> which is a girl', but 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  
> 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 standard- 
> plural interpretation?
> (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.
> —David Tuggy

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