[Lingtyp] R: Query: looking for singulatives
paoram at unipv.it
Mon May 13 11:26:30 UTC 2019
note that cioccolat-ino is ‘per se’ a diminutive which may eventually assume the singulative function, like pasticcio ‘cake, pie’ à pasticc-ino ‘petit-four’ or focaccia ‘bun’ à focacc-ina ‘little bun’. All these lexemes have a plural: cioccolatini, pasticcini,focaccine, so that the singulative function of – ino / -ina looks dubious. I think that the Russian case is very different from the Italian one.
As for the interesting example of Helmut H.:
“On the surface at least, rice is [+count] in Danish (ris) and [-count] in German (Reis). So in a recipe, you would cook ‚the rices‘ (risene) in Danish and ‚the rice‘ (den Reis) in German.
On the other hand, with spaghetti it is the other way round: Danish spaghetti is singular and [-count], while German Spaghetti is a plurale tantum (hence inherently [+count]).
I am not aware of a singulative in either language to refer to a single piece of spaghetti, while for a single grain of rice, you can say Reiskorn in German (which is, of course, a lexical singulative) but strangely enough also riskorn (not en ris) in Danish”
You may have in Italian il riso (mass noun) and I risi if you are speaking of different rice qualities, whereas spaghetti (plur.) is the usual, unmarked form; but you can have even uno spaghetto when, for instance in preparing your spaghetti dish you say ‘uno spaghetto has fallen down’ . On the contrary, it is impossible to say *un riso meaning a Reiskorn i.e. un chicco di riso (a lexical singulative).
Da: Lingtyp [mailto:lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org] Per conto di Nurmio, Silva M
Inviato: lunedì 13 maggio 2019 09:15
A: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Oggetto: [Lingtyp] Query: looking for singulatives
I’m looking for data on singulatives and I’m writing to ask for your help in tracking down more instances of this phenomenon. There is so far no comprehensive list of singulatives in the world’s languages that’s informed by an operational definition of what constitutes a singulative, and my aim is to produce such a database.
My working definition of the singulative is that it is a noun form with any marker (inflectional or derivational) that creates a meaning ‘one’ or ‘(one) unit’ when added to a base, i.e. a singulativizing and individuating marker. Bases for singulatives tend to be mass nouns, plurals, collectives of different kinds, general number forms, and sometimes non-nominal bases like adjectives. Here are four examples of different types of singulatives under my definition:
(1) Bayso (Afro-Asiatic): lúban ‘lion(s)’ (general number), singulative lúban-titi ‘a lion’
(2) Russian (Indo-European) gorox ‘pea(s)’ (mass), singulative goroš-ina ‘a pea’
(3) Italian (Indo-European) cioccolato ’chocolate’ (mass), singulative cioccolat-ino ’a chocolate praline, chocolate sweet’
(4) Welsh (Indo-European) unigol ‘individual’ (adjective), singulative unigol-yn ‘an individual’
These examples show that singulatives occur in different number systems, and they can be productive or unproductive (like the Russian -ina suffix). I also include diminutive markers which have a singulative function, as seen in (3) (Jurafsky 1996 calls this the ’partitive’ function of diminutives). Forms that are singulatives are often not described as such in grammars (especially types 3 and 4), making them harder to find. I am also including singulatives in older language stages which have since been lost (e.g. Old Irish).
Below is a list of languages (alphabetical order) on which I already have data. I would be very grateful for any pointers to grammars, language descriptions or other mentions of singulatives in languages which are not on the list, or if you think there are sources for any of the already listed languages that I’m likely to have missed.
Thank you very much in advance!
Arabic (several dialects)
Enets (Forest Enets and Tundra Enets)
Nahuatl (all dialects?)
Ojibwe (all dialects?)
Oromo (Borana dialect)
Dr Silva Nurmio
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
Fabianinkatu 24 (P.O. Box 4)
00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
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