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Re: Zero-ness

From:Raymond Brown <ray.brown@...>
Date:Sunday, August 13, 2000, 19:49
At 7:55 pm +0200 13/8/00, BP Jonsson wrote:
>At 04:16 13.8.2000 -0500, Thomas R. Wier wrote:
>>of never having used a term for something like this before. I don't like >>"nihilar" since it seems to suggest the lack of an object rather than an >>abstract number which represents lack, period; nor do I find any of the >>others particularly attractive. I guess "nullar" wins by default. > >To me, knowing Latin, it seems to be implicitly present already in the >series {..singular,dual,trial..plural..(universal?)}. Ray seems to agree.
Indeed I do. (But you forgot 'paucal' :) The Latin formative suffix used in all these is -a:lis, which is dissimilated to -a:ris if the base to which it is suffixed ends in /l/ - thus: singul + a:lis --> singula:ris. The base word for all the extant number words is adjectival, namely (neuter nom.): singulum, duo, tria, pauca, plu:ra. Thus it seems reasonable to do exactly the same for the 'zero number' if a language has a form expressing it (and I'd be surprised if it had _never_ occured in some natlang somewhen, somewhere). The Latin adjective 'nu:llus, nu:lla, nu:llum' has precisely the meaning required. And, since the base ends in /l/, the derivative would be 'nu:lla:ris' which would give English 'nullar'. I don't understand what 'wins by default' means in this context. As Philip says, correctly IMO, the word is surely _already implicit_ in the existing series of terms for the grammatical category of number. Ray. ========================================= A mind which thinks at its own expense will always interfere with language. [J.G. Hamann 1760] =========================================