Article

Numerals

Tania Ionin and Ora Matushansky

in Linguistics

ISBN: 9780199772810
Published online July 2013 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199772810-0131
Numerals

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  • Linguistics
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The linguistic properties of numerals have been investigated from a variety of perspectives. In formal generative literature, the focus has been primarily on the syntactic properties of numerals (as lexical vs. functional elements, and as heads vs. maximal projections), on their semantic status (as determiners vs. predicates vs. degrees), on the internal composition of complex numerals, and on the interpretation of modified numerals. Evidence bearing on theoretical analyses of numerals comes from a variety of languages; depending on the language, properties of numeral-containing noun phrases that are discussed in the literature include word order, case assignment, and internal as well as external gender and number agreement. A particularly large body of literature exists on the properties of numerals in Slavic languages; other languages whose numeral systems have been the subject of formal investigation include Semitic languages, Welsh, Bantu languages, and Finno-Ugric languages. Although most formal literature focuses on the syntax and semantics of cardinal numerals, ordinals and other numeral derivatives have also received attention. At the same time, a separate line of research at the semantics/pragmatics interface has examined the question of whether number words generate scalar implicatures; much of the research in this area involves experimental and/or language acquisition studies. A different line of experimental and acquisition research in the psychological literature examines the nature and development of the conceptual number system, and the relationship between language and number cognition. Ultimately, research on numerals can inform our understanding both of linguistic theory and of human cognition, making numerals an area of interest to scholars in linguistics, psycholinguistics, and cognitive psychology.

Article.  15101 words. 

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

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