Prefixed / proclitic plurals (in Zapotec)

Steve Marlett steve_marlett at SIL.ORG
Thu Sep 20 15:15:35 UTC 2001

It is not so very clear that Zapotecan languages have plural prefixes for
nominals. (This points out a general problem that we have in this area, with
dependence on descriptions that may be incomplete, and reliance on
orthographic traditions that are not explained.) While some people might
write the plural morphemes in Zapotec as prefixes, Velma Pickett and others
have pointed out in their descriptions that these morphemes are in
complementary distribution with other quantifiers, and may be better
analyzed as generalized quantifiers --- that is,  constituents of the noun
phrase rather than prefixes.  I don't know of any evidence that these
morphemes must be analyzed as prefixes. I *did* use the label "proclitic"
for these morphemes, in some cases, but that might not be an appropriate
label for many languages. In some languages this may be justified because
they undergo some interesting "movement" rules, which would merit more

Separately to Wolfgang (and to anyone else who might request it), I will
send an HTML version of a little 1987 comparative paper I did on Zapotec
with respect to pluralization (published originally in a LACUS volume).


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