associative plurals (and such...)

Edith A Moravcsik edith at CSD.UWM.EDU
Sat Sep 1 15:07:14 UTC 2001

Thank you very much for responses from Balthasar Bickel, Colin Masica, and
Frans Plank.

Balthasar mentioned a joint paper by him and Johanna Nichols in which the
relationship between associative plurals (as Misha Daniel and I define it)
and echo-words is discussed. I will look up the paper.

Colin Masica offered information on a Hindi-Urdu suffix _-waalaa_ which,
among its many uses, can also mark the associative plural when added to a
proper name. What would be interesting to know is whether _Ashok-waale_,
glossed as 'the people of Ashok's family", must or may also include Ashok
himself, as is generally case in associative plural constructions of other

He also noted that the singular form of this suffix can be used
to designate a single member of the group: _Ashok-waalaa_ is 'one of
Ashok's party or group'. We have not found this to be an option in other

Thirdly, Colin Masica mentioned the English expressions _the Joneses_,
_the Smiths_. These are also related to the associative plural but they
are not the same because in order to use _the Jones_ for a group of
people, each of them has to bear the name _Jones_ (whether by birth or by
marriage); while in associative plural constructions this is not required.
In other words, _the Joneses_ cannot be used in reference to Mr. Jones and
his friends or co-workers, while associative plural constructions do allow
for this kind of definition of the group referred to.

In connection with echo-words, Frans Plank provided a reference to an
article by Jennifer Fitzpatrick Cole in which she discusses reduplication
in Bengali. Frans points out that echo-words do not need to refer to
similar THINGS; they can also refer to similar animals and even similar
verbs. There is still a difference between these words and associative
plurals. In associative plural constructions, the unstated-but-understood
members of the group must be both similar AND forming a group with the
person who is mentioned: Japanese _Tanaka-tachi_ does not just mean
'Tanaka and similar entities (such as other humans)'; instead, it means
'Tanaka and similar entities (such as other humans) who form a group
with Tanaka'. In other words, the operant notion in echo-words that
defines the set referred to is similarity only; while in associative
plurals, it is similarity and contiguity (group-hood).

Frans also notes that there is a wide domain involved here -
expressions of the "AS SUCH" meaning - within which associative plurals
are only one subtype. This is indeed the way Misha Daniel and I see
things as well. Misha's recent Russian-language dissertation expands on
this idea.


			 Edith A. Moravcsik
			 Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics
			 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
		         Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413

			 E-mail: edith at
		         Telephone: (414) 229-6794 /office/
				    (414) 332-0141 /home/
		         Fax: (414) 229-2741


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