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Re: THEORY: Kinds of Plurals, and Methods of Indicating Them

From:tomhchappell <tomhchappell@...>
Date:Wednesday, June 29, 2005, 0:24
Thanks for writing, Geoff.

After I posted my original reply to you, I managed to use my "Google-
Print" account to preview part of a chapter of Greville Corbett's
book "NUMBER" in which he talks about "Lesser and Greater" paucals
and plurals.

According to Corbett, it turns out that in some languages, there is a
contrast or opposition between the "general plural" and a "greater
plural".  The "general plural" means what people usually mean by
plural in any other language; the "greater plural" is a "plural-of-
abundance", or a "global plural", or both.

By a "plural-of-abundance" is meant, this plural is used to connote
or denote an unusually large number of whatever kind of object is
pluralized; by "global plural" is meant, this plural is used to
connote or denote /all/ of whatever kind of object is pluralized.

Thus "plural" could be split two different ways:  into "lesser
plural" versus "general plural" (paucal vs plural); or into "general
plural" versus "greater plural".  In fact, Corbett gives examples of
Austronesian languages that make both splits simultaneously.  One of
these is Lahir or Lihir, depending on how it should be spelled, as
Doug Dee (Amateur Linguist) pointed out to me back in May this year
on this list.  Lihir (if that's the way to spell it) has five
numbers; singular, dual, paucal, plural, greater plural.


Thanks for writing.

I look forward to your next contribution.

I look forward to anyone's response.


Tom H.C. in MI

--- In, tomhchappell <tomhchappell@Y...>
> wrote: > Hi, Geoff, and thanks for writing. > --- In, Geoff Horswood <geoffhorswood@H...> > wrote: > > One of my conlangs, Noygwexaal, has a regular plural and a > collective > > plural. The way I use those terms (I have no idea whether this
> correct > > for any other langs), a regular plural > > > would be used for things that are > > plural, but of a finite countable number. > > That would be what I think is meant (at least, /sometimes/ meant) > by "paucal", or "plural-of-paucity". In my as-yet-unnamed-and- > unfinished conlang, that will be /exactly/ what is meant by > the "paucal" number. > > > The collective plural is used > > > for things that are an uncountable number, > > (Does "uncountable" mean, "can't be counted at a glance"? For most > people, three-to-six can be counted at a glance; for professional > sheep-counters etc., "paucal" might refer to somewhat greater > numbers.) > > > and also to imply "all of them". > > This is covered by the "plural-of-abundance"; the plural that isn't > paucal, in languages that have a paucal. > AFAIK in any language which has a plural distinct from a
paucal, "all
> of them" is one of the meanings reserved for the plural, not the > paucal. > In my forthcoming conlang, "paucal" will also include any number > whose exact count is known; and "plural" will also include "almost > all with at most paucally many exceptions". > > > > > eg. in the sentence "John pulled out his hair", > > > > 1) a singular form of "hair" would mean that John pulled out a > specific > > hair already referred to. > > > > 2) a plural form of "hair" would mean that John pulled out a
> number > > of hairs, or perhaps a handful of his hair. > > > > 3) a collective form of "hair" would mean that John pulled out
> of his > > hair. > > > > Does this help at all? > > Yes, it does. My subject line was meant to imply that I wished to > include such distinctions, although the body of my original posting > didn't discuss them at all. > > This does make me think of an additional question; how and in what > languages does the paucal-vs.-plural opposition interact with the > distributive-vs.-"collective" opposition? > > > > > I haven't a clue what, if any, natlangs do this sort of thing, > though. > > As for distributive-vs.-"collective", Ray Brown has given Latin > translations of the two most extreme interpretations of my sample > sentence. Ray views the differences between the two Latin
> as closer to complete re-lexification than to inflection; afaict
> right about that. > > As for paucal-vs.-plural, I think some Pacific languages make this > distinction; at any rate, I remember some examples were pretty easy > to find on Google, once I knew the term "paucal". > > You can see why one thing I want to know is, just what are the
> used by various linguists? > > > > > Geoff > > Thanks for writing, Geoff. > > BTW IIRC I asked earlier this year for examples of natural
> with both a "trial" and "paucal" in the same language, (distinct
> each other and from "dual" and "plural"). I think a few examples > were given. > > Tom H.C. in MI