number markers and numerals

Elena Maslova Lena at LH.BICOS.DE
Tue Mar 17 00:33:01 UTC 1998

Dear ALT colleagues,

This is in response to Fedor Rojanski's and Edith Moravchik's
messages concerning two new criteria distinguishing number markers
and numerals. The criterion both Edith and Fedor agree upon is that
of obligatoriness. However reasonable it is, it seems to me that
this criterion involves more problems than solutions. Fedor has
excluded some problematic cases (fairly typical for agglutinating
languages where number markers are hardly obligatory) by stating
that this criterion works only in one direction: if a formative
cannot be omitted, it is a number marker, if it can be omitted, it
can be both a numeral and a number marker.

There are, however, still some problems: e.g., in Russian, a
numeral requires (in some cases) a special (case) form of the noun
and, as a result, cannot be just omitted in those cases, cf.:

V komnate dva stol-a.
In room	two tables

V komnate pjatj stol-ov
In room	five tables

'There are two/five tables in the room.'

But not:

*V komnate stol-a
*V komnate stol-ov,

(instead, V komnate stol-y (nominative:plural)).

Elena Maslova

Elena Maslova
University of Bielefeld
lena at

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