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Re: R: New Idea? Was(YAC: a couple of questions)

From:Yoon Ha Lee <yl112@...>
Date:Saturday, December 30, 2000, 1:36
On Fri, 29 Dec 2000, SMITH,MARCUS ANTHONY wrote:

> On Fri, 29 Dec 2000, Mangiat wrote: > > > But if, in a language as Chinese, i.e., where there is no sing-pl > > distinction, the numeral 'one' begins to be suffixed to nouns to mark their > > sing. form we'd have a marked sing. versus an unmarked plur. Here's an > > exemple with a Chinese-like made up numeral (don't remember the word for > > 'one'): > > > > yün = one > > ren = man > > > > renyün = man versus ren = men > > > > What do you think? > > It seems possible. The question I have though, is why should 'one' be > suffixed to singulars in the first place? I could see using it as an > indefinite article, in which case it wouldn't be applied to definite > singulars. If it just started being used to distinguish singular from > plural to avoid ambiguity, I'm not sure why the singular would get a > special suffix as opposed to the plural.
I don't know if this helps, but in Korean "one" does get attached t owords as a sort-of indefinite article, to emphasize that there's "just one." But to emphasize that is more than one of something: mal = horse or word, depending (theyr'e spelled the same, and no doubt from whichever Chinese toned "ma") han mal = one horse du mal = two horses mal duge = horses where, as far as I can tell, "duge" is derived from "two of," but becomes attached as a suffix instead of going in front like an ordinary happy little adjective in Korean. But it is used to emphasize that there's more than one horse under discussion, and is entirely optional. YHL