Number and Mood

William McGregor william.mcgregor at ARTS.KULEUVEN.AC.BE
Tue Apr 21 11:49:44 UTC 1998

At 09:46 AM 4/21/98 -0700, you wrote:
>Dear colleaques,
>for testing a rather weird hypothesis I would like to know if anybody
>has ever stumbled on some odd structural or phonological similarity
>between number markers (on nouns or verbs) and markers of modality
>(or is there at least some strict complementary distribution?).

	I don't have the relevant material at hand right now, but a couple of
things come to mind:

(1) Somewhere in my 1997 book (Semiotic grammar, OUP) I make the suggestion
that quantification might profitably be regarded as an "interpersonal"
phenomenon -- which mood clearly is. This was a guess/hypothesis based on
certain recurrent patterns in the realisation of quantification, including
by such means as reduplication, and phenomena of scope. Note also the close
association between negation and quantification (no(t), none, zero), and
the fact that in some languages I have worked on 'all' and such quantifiers
involve general number words plus what i would call interpersonal
modifiers, like 'precisely, exactly'. If there is anything to this, it
suggests interesting possibilities regarding the origins and development of

(2) I have suspicions that there may be some close morphological
associations in some Nyulnyulan languages (Kimberley, Western Austraila).
But I will have to check my corpora.

Bill McGregor

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