associative plurals

Wolfgang Schulze W.Schulze at LRZ.UNI-MUENCHEN.DE
Mon Aug 20 10:19:53 UTC 2001

Dear Edith,

I checked Burushaski and learned that the language lacks an explicite
associative plural (though there is a plural morpheme /-daro/ {with
variants} that is restricted to kin terms and that seems to
(historically?) qualify as an associative marker (e.g. /sayyid-daro/).

For Hunzib, you should ask Helma van den Berg.

Let me add some data from three other East Caucasian languages:

Tabasaran (Lezgian) has a plural /-gh`a"r/ (phar. uvular voiced
fricative + a-umlaut) ~ /-q'ar/ that is used with both some kin terms
and personal names, e.g. /ibrahim-gh`a"r/ 'those of Ibrahim',
/ramazan-gh`a"r/ 'those of Ramazan' etc. With kin terms, the suffix
denotes 'referent plus its surroundings' (as opposed to the standard
distributive plural formation of kin terms in Tabasaran).

Rutul (Lezgian, Western Samur) has a relict of an associative plural
with some kin terms (e.g. /did-ab/ 'those of the father' (as opposed to
/did-ab-ar/ 'fathers') etc.

Kubachi (a Dargwa variety) has a suffix /-qal(i)/ in just the same
function (/arslan-qal/ 'those of Arslan' etc.). With kin terms, /-qal/
denotes 'the family of ....' , e.g. /aba-qal/ 'mother's family' (as
opposed to /ab-ne/ 'mothers').

In fact, many East Caucasian languages (that are famous for their
multiple plural formation patterns) know a more or less clear-cut plural
subcategory that is/was restricted to kin terms (and personal names).
Historically speaking, most of these plural formations had been
associatives esp. when referring to the 'elders' of a family - today,
their semantic specification is often neutralized in favor of a
distributive plural (whether or not an associative reading then is
appropriate is detemined by context).



Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze
Institute for General Linguistics and Language Typology
[Institut für Allgemeine und Typologische Sprachwissenschaft]
Dept. II [Languages and Communication] - F 13/14
Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen
Geschwister-Scholl-Platz 1
D-80539 Muenchen
Phone: ++49-(0)89-2180-2486 (secretary)
++49-(0)89-2180-5343 (office)
Fax: ++49-(0)89-2180-5345
Email: W.Schulze at

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