Grammatical gender meets classifier semantics: Cross-linguistic investigations into the morphosemantic complexity of numerals


WĄGIEL Marcin CAHA Pavel

Year of publication 2022
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Attached files
Description It is commonly assumed that gender and classifier systems play a similar role in grammar in that they both reflect the classification of the nominal lexicon (e.g., Dixon 1982, Corbett 1991, Aikhenvald 2000). On the other hand, recent research reveals a non-trivial relationship between grammatical gender and quantification (Arsenijević 2016, Fassi Fehri 2018). In this talk, we explore the interaction between different uses of numerals and gender marking patterns in Slavic, Arabic and Abkhaz and compare gendered numerals to classifier constructions in languages such as Mandarin Chinese and Japanese. Based on a cross-linguistic dataset, we propose a unified morpho-semantic account for the typological variation in form and meaning. We adopt Nanosyntax as a model of morphology which, when applied to the semantic primitives we postulate, delivers the relevant marking patterns. The model is broadly based on the idea that the meaning components are uniformly structured across languages, and they must all be pronounced, though languages differ in how they pronounce them. All cardinals share an underlying scale of natural numbers but differ in the number of operations subsequently applied to that scale.

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