Zero-coded plurals of pluralia tantum
kazuto.matsumura at NIFTY.COM
Mon Dec 21 02:14:14 UTC 2009
Dear Siva and all,
As this is a typology list, it would be very nice for
the coming summary of this dicsussion to include a
report on how common the phenomenon of pluralia tantum
itself is outside the Indo-European family of languages.
I am very curious, because the English-language Winkipedia
article on plurale tantum, for example, gives examples
taken from a few Indo-European languages only.
Incidentally, the "trousers" words in both Finnish and
Estonian are probably plurale tantum, but they are
languages spoken in areas adjacent to the SAE region
and have been strongly influenced by Swedish and German,
respectively, for centuries.
In case this is a topic that has already been discussed
here or studied somewhere, I apologize for my intrusion,
but ask you to kindly lead me to the relevant literature.
Univ. of Tokyo
Siva Kalyan <sivakalyan.princeton at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
>Suppose I had one pair of trousers with a hole in it. I would exclaim, "My
>trousers have a hole in them!". Now suppose I had the misfortune to discover
>that this was true of *all* of my pairs of trousers. Then I would say, "All
>my trousers have a hole in them!". Note that in the first case,
>*trousers*refers to a single pair of trousers, whereas in the second,
>it refers to
>What I'm curious about is: How common is this in the world's languages? That
>is, how common is it for a language to zero-code the plural of a plurale
>tantum (a noun denoting a singular entity but which is grammatically
>plural)? Is there any other strategy that is used used in such situations?
>(The earlier thread on double plurals comes to mind.)
>Also, why would a language zero-code this kind of plural in the first place?
>Might it have to do with the "repeated morph constraint" (Menn and
>MacWhinney 1984) or "product-oriented schemas" (Bybee 2001)?
>Bybee, Joan. Phonology and Language Use. Cambridge University Press, 2003.
>Menn, L, and B MacWhinney. "The Repeated Morph Constraint: Toward An
>Explanation." Language 60, no. 3 (1984): 519-541.
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