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Chinese Syntax in a Cross-Linguistic Perspective$
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Audrey Li, Andrew Simpson, and Wei-Tien Dylan Tsai

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199945658

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945658.001.0001

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A Parametric Analysis of Nominal Arguments in Classifier Languages

A Parametric Analysis of Nominal Arguments in Classifier Languages

Chapter:
(p.51) 2 A Parametric Analysis of Nominal Arguments in Classifier Languages
Source:
Chinese Syntax in a Cross-Linguistic Perspective
Author(s):

L. Julie Jiang

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199945658.003.0002

This chapter discusses three universal properties and two variable properties of nominal arguments in classifier languages, languages with a typically extensive inventory of ‘measure words’ that must be used in combining a numeral with any noun. The chapter proposes a parametric analysis of numeral-classifier phrases to account for these language universals and variation based on three core analyses of bare nouns, classifiers, and numerals: (i) bare nouns in classifier languages are kind-referring, (ii) classifiers are relations between numerals and kinds, and (iii) numerals are phrasal in the syntax and ambiguous in the Universal Lexicon. It shows that the facts from classifier languages and the proposed analysis not only help us understand nominal argument formation in general but also point out directions for typological investigation in the future.

Keywords:   classifiers, bare nouns, numerals, determiners, Mandarin, Cantonese, Yi, Japanese

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