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Re: Evolution of Plural Markers

From:Tamas Racsko <tracsko@...>
Date:Saturday, February 7, 2004, 19:22
--- In, Rob Haden <magwich78@Y...> wrote:
> What are the realistic ways by which plural markers develop?
In Hungarian the adjectival suffix <-s> [S] has plural (collective, to be precise) connotation in a subset of words. E.g. from the word <nád> [na:d] 'reed, Phragmites communis', we can form an adjective <nádas> [na:dOS] with the meaning 'with reed, of reed, resembling to reed etc.'. When this word is used as noun, it denotes 'reed plot, place where reed grow' with a strong collective sense like 'place full of reeds, many reeds'. This suffix <-s> [S] is a possible candidate to become a plural marker in the "future Hungarian". There are evidences that similar processes already took place in the past, because the present Hungarian plural marker <-k> seems to be etymologically related to the Finnish collective suffix <-kko> in words like <kuusi> 'fir' > <kuusikko> 'fir plantation, many firs', <kivi> 'stone' > <kivikko> 'place full of stones'. In the case of the Finnish word <kuusikko>, we have the exact parallelism between the Finnish collective suffix <-kko> and the Hungarian adjectival suffix <-s> [S], cf. Hungarian <fenyo"> [fEJ9:] 'fir, pine' + <-s> [S] > <fenyves> [fEJvES] 'fir plantation, pine forest'. Even one of the reconstucted plural markers in the Proto-Finno-Ugrian *<-jA> is usually compared to another Hungarian adjectival suffix <-i> [i]. This suggests that this plural marker evolved from an adjectival suffix in the protolanguage, too. ----- Historically, the Common Turkic plural marker <-lAr> is a compound suffix. It's composed of an <-l> element and the <-Ar> collective suffix. This <-l> element is considered as an older plural marker, but it's worthy of note that Turkic languages have an adjectival suffix <-lI>, cf. <Osman> proper name > <osmanli> '(Empire/people) of Osman'. ----- Some of the Finnish and Esthonian dialectal plural markers, like <-lOi>, <-se>, <-a> were abstracted by restructuring the morphemic chain. E.g. <-lOi> is a combination of an original <-i> plural marker and a derivational suffix that is semantically dummy in word pairs like <peukku> ~ <peukalo> 'thumb'. <-se> and <-a> were originally root alternations before inflexional suffixes in certain paradigms. ----- In Sumerian there were half a dozen plural categories. As far as I know, animate determined (demonstrative) plural marker <-ene>, eg. <lú> 'man', <lú-ene> 'certain men', seems to be connected with the demonstrative suffix (enclitic pronoun) <ne(-e)> 'this (one)'. The determinative plural marker <-dili-dili> (and its contracted form <-didli>) is a reduplication of the numeral <dili> 'one, single' with a meaning of 'one by one', cf. <mu-dili-dili> 'entries one by one, individual entries (in a lexical series)', <lú-dili- dili> 'men particularly, individual men'. The late Sumerian plural marker <-me-ec> has a literal meaning of 'they are' (<me> 'to be' + <-ec> intransitive 3rd personal plural suffix) and it was abstracted from a subordinate phrase. ----- Notes: - In Sumerian data ETCSL display conventions were used - In Finno-Ugrian and Turkic suffixes capitals represent vowels affected by vowel harmony, eg. <-lAr> = <-lar> + <-lär> - In Hungarian <o"> stands for latin small letter o with double acute