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Count and Mass Across Languages$
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Diane Massam

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199654277

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654277.001.0001

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Counting and classifiers ⋆

Counting and classifiers ⋆

(p.199) 11 Counting and classifiers
Count and Mass Across Languages

Lisa Lai‐Shen Cheng

Oxford University Press

This chapter re-examines the interpretation of bare nouns in Chinese, and the distinction between count-classifiers and massifiers. Using three different puzzles, it is shown that (a) bare nouns in Chinese cannot be coerced into mass reading (since coercion requires a morphosyntactic trigger, which Chinese lacks; (2) Cantonese differs from Mandarin in that classifiers are unit markers, which can undergo reduplication and yield individuation; and (3) massifiers do not form a uniform group and that de appears only with quantity measures. Lastly, it is argued that di1 in Cantonese is a plural classifier, supporting the claim that classifiers express number.

Keywords:   classifier, massifier, individuation, Cantonese, Mandarin

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