[Lingtyp] Query: looking for singulatives
Daniel W. Hieber
dwhieb at hotmail.com
Thu May 16 04:52:12 UTC 2019
There is an enclitic in Chitimacha (isolate; Louisiana) which may be of interest, although it's not entirely clear whether it would fall under your definition of a singulative. I think it would be worth considering whether examples of this type belong under the category of singulative as well, and if not, what distinguishes them from singulatives.
Swadesh (1939a: 131-132) states that the suffix ‑(n)kʼiš may mean:
1. 'no one, nothing else'; 'only, just'
2. (with pronouns) 'alone, unaccompanied, unaided'
3. (with numerals) enumerated, individuated
With the exception of a handful of animate nouns, Chitimacha does not otherwise distinguish singular and plural nouns.
Some examples of each of the functions in use:
I am the only one who knows the language (Swadesh 1939b: A10j.5)
tired of being alone (Swadesh 1939b: A12a.5)
he had married four women (Swadesh 1939b: A37b.1)
· Swadesh, Morris. 1939a. Chitimacha grammar. In Chitimacha grammar, texts, and vocabulary (American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages Mss.497.3.B63c G6.5). Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society Library.
· Swadesh, Morris. 1939b. Chitimacha texts. In Chitimacha grammar, texts, and vocabulary (American Council of Learned Societies Committee on Native American Languages Mss.497.3.B63c G6.5). Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society Library.
Daniel W. Hieber
Ph.D. Candidate in Linguistics
University of California, Santa Barbara
From: Lingtyp <lingtyp-bounces at listserv.linguistlist.org> on behalf of Nurmio, Silva M <silva.nurmio at helsinki.fi>
Sent: Monday, May 13, 2019 2:15:14 AM
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
Subject: [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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