words for words and languages

Claire Bowern bowern at FAS.HARVARD.EDU
Mon Feb 9 21:21:13 UTC 2004

To point out a possible counterexample, in Bardi (Nyulnyulan, spoken in NW
Australia), the word for "word" and "language" is ngaanka, but Bardi has
an obligatory category of number in agreement (subject, object and
oblique) and on possessive markers. It's marked optionally in noun phrases
with a pronoun (ginyinggi for singular, irr for plural) - the presence of
maining in NPs is bound to a combination of topichood, focus and

Claire Bowern

Department of Linguistics
Harvard University
305 Boylston Hall
Cambridge, MA, 02138

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