classifier and plural morphology
bingfu at USC.EDU
Wed Nov 11 17:25:22 UTC 1998
Since I posted the query about classifier and plural morphology,
there have appeared numerous responses. Many thanks for all these
Actually, the query was initiated by Audrey Li, who does not
subscribe this discussion group and I posted the query for her, without
expectation that there would be so huge an amount of responses. I am
sorry that didn't claim this at the beginning.
The following is Audrey's follow up to this discussion. Further
reponses better cc to her simultaneously.
Dear Lingtyp netters,
Many thanks for the extremely informative messages on my question re.
classifiers and plural marking. Edith Moravcsik gave a superb summary of
the possibilities and issues. The remarks by various colleagues are
absolutely enlightening. The discussions have been impressive!
If I may, can I address the issue from a slightly different and narrower
Is it possible that the order of Number, Classifier and Noun may also play
a role in the use of plural morphology? I wonder if the following
generalization is true:
If the word order is Number + Classifier + Noun, the Noun does not take
plural morphology (e.g., Chinese)
If the word order is Noun + Number + Classifier, the noun can take plural
morphology (e.g., Korean, Burmese)
We may also need to pay attention to the structure. For instance, some
languages may use a modification structure for [Number + Classifier] and
[Noun], indicated by the use of a modification marker between [Number +
Classifier ] and Noun; some other languages may not use a modification
structure, indicated by the impossibility of a modification marker in
between [Number + Classifier] and Noun. In other words, it is possible
that the same order [Number + Classifier + Noun] may need to be subdivided
into two different types, which may affect the possibility of plural
morphology on Noun (e.g., the comparison between Chinese and Japanese)
This is a very tentative speculation, based on a very small set of
languages. Your input will be most appreciated.
dept. of Linguistics
dept. of East Asian Languages and Cultures
University of Southern California
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