Prefixed / proclitic plurals

Volker Gast gast at ZEDAT.FU-BERLIN.DE
Thu Sep 20 13:36:53 UTC 2001

Dear all

I can confirm Matthew Dryer's including Zapotec in the list of languages
that have plural prefixes. Mitla Zapotec has an optional prefix 're-' 
which pluralizes nouns: 'yahg' "tree", 're-yahg' "trees". This prefix is
probably related to a deictic adverb 'ree' "here". As a suffix, '-re'
figures as a demonstrative: 'nigii' "man", 'nigii-re' "this man". In field
work I have noticed that younger speakers tend to use the suffix '-re' as
a definite article, but this seems to be a recent development. You can
find information on Mitla Zapotec in Stubblefield, M. & Miller,
C. 1991. Diccionario Zapoteco de Mitla. Mexico D.F.: ILV. Furthermore,
there is an unfinished grammar by Elinor Briggs which was also published
by the Mexican branch of SIL in 1961 ("Mitla Zapoetc Grammar").

Chalcatongo Mixtec has a verbal prefix 'ka-' which indicates plurality of
the subject: 'chi7i' "(s)he sows", 'ka-chi7i' "they sow" (7 is a glottal
stop). There are two excellent descriptions of Chalcatongo Mixtec: the
well-known reference grammar by Monica Macaulay (1996) and a very
comprehensive book that was written by Gabina Aurora Perez Jimenez and
Maarten Jansen (Leiden, 1999). Perez Jimenez & Jansen remark that 'ka-'
is probably related to a quantifier 'taka' "all".

Volker Gast

On Wed, 19 Sep 2001, Wolfgang Schulze wrote:

> Dear Colleagues,
> I would be happy if someone out there could help me with the following
> question: Do you know of any language that systematically marks its
> plural with the help of prefixes and/or proclitics? And if yes: do you
> know whether the morpheme in question stems from
> a) an article structure
> b) count/mass nouns (such as Tagalaog /mga-/) [if yes: does the language
> have a NGEn ordering?]
> c) overt noun class markers
> d) primary deixis (such as Bella Coola) (obviously related related to (a))
> e) other sources...
> If the language has prefixing or procilitzation strategies for plural
> marking: does it also know (other) derivational procedures for nouns
> that are carried out with the help of prefixes/proclitics?
> Many thanks in advance,
> Wolfgang
> --
> Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schulze
> Institute for General Linguistics and Language Typology
> [Institut fuer 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
> Web:

Volker Gast
FU Berlin
Institut für Englische Philologie
Goßlerstraße 2-4
14195 Berlin

Tel.: 030/838 72314

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