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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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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 04 August 2021

A Parametric Analysis of Nominal Arguments in Classifier Languages

A Parametric Analysis of Nominal Arguments in Classifier Languages

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

L. Julie Jiang

Oxford University Press

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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