Zero-coded plurals of pluralia tantum

hartmut at RUC.DK hartmut at RUC.DK
Tue Dec 22 21:37:24 UTC 2009

Citat af "Matthew S. Dryer" <dryer at BUFFALO.EDU>:

> Most of the discussion so far has presupposed that the phenomenon of pluralia
> tantum nouns involves number marking on the noun.  But in Walman, a   
> Torricelli
> language of Papua New Guinea where  there are a large number of   
> pluralia tantum
> nouns (more than 50% more than the number of masculine nouns, one of the two
> grammatical genders), what defines the pluralia tantum nouns is not   
> their form -
> there is very little plural marking on nouns in Walman - but the   
> fact that they
> always trigger plural agreement on verbs and on nominal modifiers   
> (including an
> irregular plural form of the numeral for 'one' that only occurs with pluralia
> tantum nouns).
> Matthew Dryer

What about Classical Greek neuter plural nouns which trigger singular  
agreement on verbs (like their singular forms)?


> On Sun 12/20/09  2:47 PM , Siva Kalyan sivakalyan.princeton at GMAIL.COM sent:
>> Hi,
>> Suppose I had one pair of trousers with a hole in it. I would
>> exclaim, "My trousers have a hole in them!". Now suppose I had the
>> misfortune to discover that this was true of _all_ of my pairs of
>> trousers. Then I would say, "All my trousers have a hole in them!".
>> Note that in the first case, _trousers_ refers to a single pair of
>> trousers, whereas in the second, it refers to multiple pairs.
>> What I'm curious about is: How common is this in the world's
>> languages? That is, how common is it for a language to zero-code the
>> plural of a plurale tantum (a noun denoting a singular entity but
>> which is grammatically plural)? Is there any other strategy that is
>> used used in such situations? (The earlier thread on double plurals
>> comes to mind.) Also, why would a language zero-code this kind of
>> plural in the first place? Might it have to do with the "repeated
>> morph constraint" (Menn and MacWhinney 1984) or "product-oriented
>> schemas" (Bybee 2001)?
>> Thanks,Siva
>> Ref's
>> Bybee, Joan. Phonology and Language Use. Cambridge University Press,
>> 2003.Menn, L, and B MacWhinney. "The Repeated Morph Constraint:
>> Toward An Explanation." Language 60, no. 3 (1984): 519-541.

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