[Lingtyp] Query: looking for singulatives

Martin Haspelmath haspelmath at shh.mpg.de
Thu May 16 16:14:31 UTC 2019

Thanks for pointing this out, I don't see how Kouneli's dissertation would be relevant to a cross-linguistic study of singulatives. It makes a large number of very specific high-risk assumptions, and describes some phenomena of Kipsigis (Nilotic) in a very complex way. 

At the same time, Kouneli says explicitly (p. 40) that "a uniform analysis of all types of singulatives is unlikely" - without giving a definition of "singulative". So the goal of this type of research seems to be very different from that of finding cross-linguistic generalizations and explaining them.

Maybe I don't understand it properly, but it seems that this approach offers neither perspicuous descriptions nor any clear claims about cross-linguistic distributions or explanations. I'd be happy to be shown wrong.


> Am 16.05.2019 um 16:16 schrieb Neil Myler <myler at bu.edu>:
> Dear Silva,
> Chapter 2 of this recent NYU dissertation by Maria Kouneli contains a lot of germane discussion.
> Best,
> Neil
>> On Mon, May 13, 2019 at 3:46 AM Nurmio, Silva M <silva.nurmio at helsinki.fi> wrote:
>> Dear all,
>> 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!
>> Best wishes,
>> Silva Nurmio
>> Aari
>> Akkadian
>> Arabic (several dialects)
>> Arbore
>> Baiso/Bayso
>> Baule
>> Berber
>> Bidyogo
>> Bora
>> Breton
>> Burushaski
>> Cantonese
>> Cornish
>> Dagaare
>> Dutch
>> Enets (Forest Enets and Tundra Enets)
>> Ewe
>> Fox
>> Gede'o
>> Hebrew
>> Imonda
>> Italian
>> Itelmen
>> Kambaata
>> Kiowa
>> Krongo
>> Majang
>> Maltese
>> Marle (Murle)
>> Masa
>> Miraña
>> Nafusi
>> Nahuatl (all dialects?)
>> Ojibwe (all dialects?)
>> Old Irish
>> Oromo (Borana dialect)
>> Resígaro
>> Russian
>> Shilluk
>> Shona
>> Sidamo
>> Swahili
>> Tariana
>> Tewa
>> Tigre
>> Tiwa
>> Towa
>> Turkana
>> Ukrainian
>> Welsh
>> Yiddish
>> Zulu
>> Dr Silva Nurmio
>> Research Fellow
>> Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
>> Fabianinkatu 24 (P.O. Box 4)
>> 00014 University of Helsinki, Finland
>> https://tuhat.helsinki.fi/portal/en/person/sinurmio
>> _______________________________________________
>> Lingtyp mailing list
>> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
>> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
> <Kouneli 2019 The syntax of number and modification.pdf>
> _______________________________________________
> Lingtyp mailing list
> Lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org
> http://listserv.linguistlist.org/mailman/listinfo/lingtyp
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://listserv.linguistlist.org/pipermail/lingtyp/attachments/20190516/3eaad344/attachment.htm>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list