Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald

in Linguistics

ISBN: 9780199772810
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:

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Classifiers and noun classes are basic kinds of noun categorization devices. They fall into several subtypes depending on the morphosyntactic context of their realization; for instance, numeral classifiers appear in numerical expressions, possessive classifiers in possessive constructions, noun classifiers within a noun phrase, verbal classifiers on a verb or a predicate, and locative classifiers within a locative expression. They are restricted to constructions that require the presence of a particular kind of classifier morpheme whose choice is dictated by the semantic characteristics of the referent. The continuum of noun categorization devices is broad: from large sets of lexical numeral classifiers in the languages of Southeast Asia to the highly grammaticalized systems of noun classes in Bantu languages and of genders in Indo-European (see Genders and Noun Classes). They have a similar semantic basis, and one can develop from the other. There has been a considerable amount of literature over the years on individual classifier types, especially numeral classifiers, with a focus on languages of Southeast Asia, and on noun classes, with less attention paid to other types.

Article.  13335 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Anthropological Linguistics ; Language Families ; Psycholinguistics ; Sociolinguistics

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