Theiling Online    Sitemap    Conlang Mailing List HQ   

Re: Nouns for things that occur in pairs

From:Alex Fink <000024@...>
Date:Sunday, May 25, 2008, 1:46
On Sat, 24 May 2008 16:19:07 -0500, Eric Christopherson <rakko@...>

>I remember reading somewhere that some languages have a special >marking for nouns for things that normally occur in pairs. What do >you call this phenomenon? Is it an example of grammatical number (and >if so, what is that number called?) And does anyone how those >markings evolved?
I'm put in mind of certain Slavic languages (Polish is one, I think) in which the declension of normally-paired nouns meaning 'eye', 'ear', &c contains a number of forms from the old dual, even though the dual is now lost and these forms must be considered paradigmatically plural. Presumably the reason for this is something to do with the dual forms having been much more frequent than the plural ones while both categories survived. I'd imagine that from this situation, especially in a language in which the old dual forms were conducive to it (say by being the plural plus an affix), that the former dual marking could spread throughout the whole paradigm of these nouns, and one would have your situation. I don't know of a name for this, no. And, hm, you might be able to convince me that it could be thought of as "lexical grammatical number", as opposed to the usual (morphological) grammatical number. Alex