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USAGE: Count and mass nouns

From:Tim May <butsuri@...>
Date:Thursday, January 15, 2004, 1:38
Trebor Jung wrote at 2004-01-15 02:17:22 (+0100)
 > Merhaba!
 > I'm creating a conlang in which I don't want to have to use
 > classifiers ('sheet of paper'). I want to be able to say, for
 > example, *'one paper'. If I make nouns count as default, instead of
 > mass as in English, would I achieve my goal?
 > --Trebor

Well, I don't know.  Possibly.  First of all, I don't think nouns are mass by
default in English - some are count and others are mass, but I think
the count nouns are in the majority.  You can contrast this with
something like Chinese or Japanese, where all nouns are mass (kind of)
and to specify a number you have to use a counter (which is not a
noun, exactly).

But I understand that there are some languages which employ only count
nouns.  ISTR Whorf describing Hopi as such in _Languge, Thought and
Reality_.  But how much is one water, one hydrogen, one cement?  Hopi,
I think, had two words for water, one for a small quantity (say, if
you were asking for a glass of water) and one for a large or wild body
of water, like a lake.

Incidentally, sending subjectless emails to a mailing list is not a
good idea.