classifier and plural morphology

bingfu bingfu at USC.EDU
Wed Nov 11 22:30:08 UTC 1998

A reply to David Gil's message.
Sorry, I didn't know that a cc-ed address wouldn't appear in the posting.
Audrey's email address is
audreyli at

All messages regarding the current issue better cc to her.

Bingfu Lu

On Wed, 11 Nov 1998, David Gil wrote:

> On Audrey's conjectures:
> > 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)
> A *partial* counterexample to this is Standard Malay.  Classifiers are
> optional; number marking, via reduplication, is optional; word order is free;
> BUT the most common word order is like Chinese, Number + Classifier + Noun.
> A somewhat different partial counterexample is Vietnamese, in which
> classifiers are nearly obligatory.  In Vietnamese there is a so-called plural
> word _cac_, which of course is optional.  But figuring out word boundaries in
> Southeast Asian languages is notoriously difficult -- so even though it's
> *written* as a separate word, I don't know whether it really is one, as
> opposed to, say, a proclitic or even prefix.
> Come to think about it, what about the Mandarin plural marker _xie_, usually
> occurring in the collocation _yi xie_:  what are its wordhood properties?
> > If the word order is Noun + Number + Classifier, the noun can take plural
> > morphology (e.g., Korean, Burmese)
> Here Thai is a clear counterexample:  Noun + Number + Classifier word order,
> but no plural morphology.
> David
> PS I'm afraid I haven't got Audrey's email asddress; perhaps Bingfu would be
> so kind as to forward this to her.
> --
> David Gil
> Department of Linguistics
> Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
> Inselstrasse 22, D-04103 Leipzig, Germany
> Telephone: 44-341-9952310
> Fax: 44-341-9952119
> Email: gil at

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