Number and Mood

David Beck dbeck at CHASS.UTORONTO.CA
Tue Apr 21 17:16:40 UTC 1998

>What about reduplication?  Two of its relatively
>common meanings cross-linguistically are (a)
>plurality (nominal or verbal); and (b) diminuitivity
>(apologies for the term, meant to encompass things
>like "-ish" as in "reddish", "imitation" as in
>"toy car", atelicity, and negative polarity -- all
>impinging on modality).
If reduplication counts, then Salishan languages have this property in
spades. Both nouns and verbs are quantified by reduplication in most
languages, the nouns getting ordinary count plurality and the verbs getting
various types of what Inga Dolinina and I describe as "event-plurality"
(i.e., distributivity, iterativity, locative distributivity, etc.). Some of
the languages seem to allow expressions of more than one type of
event-plurality with the same reduplicative pattern (which is the one
shared by nouns, in many cases), others use a variety of reduplicative
patterns to express different meanings (and diminutivity/ attenuativity).

David Beck

David Beck
Department of Linguistics
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University of Toronto
Toronto, Ontario  M5S 3H1
e-mail: dbeck at
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