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Re: Number

From:taliesin the storyteller <taliesin@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 7, 2001, 11:33
* Marcus Smith said on 2001-08-04 09:45:50 +0200
> I've been reading Greville Corbett's new book on Number (2001, Combridge > University Press). [..] Quenya gets a footnote on page 33 for the -ath > plural, which actually has a natlang counterpart in the South Omotic > language Hamer (spoken in Ethiopia).
Cool! That a conlang is mentioned in such a way in a scholarly work I mean, as I've met linguists who freak out a little at the thought of conlanging and conlangers.
> Rather than simply quantity, some number systems distinguish distributed > all over the place from collected in one place.
Like klingon/tlhIngan -mey as in _jatmey_ "scattered tongues" :)
> So, how is number expressed in your conlangs?
târuven is quite boring, number-wise. Only nouns (and pronouns) are marked for number, -an for dual, -in for quintal/paucal, -en for generic plural. Number-marking is never required; if there already is some other way of conveying number/amount in the phrase, marking the noun is redundant. -in is handy, though. It means "five", "more than two and less than six", "the natural/default amount of a bodypart or living thing" and/or "so few you can tell them apart at a glance" depending on context. If you talk about fingers of a human hand it means five, had it been the hand of Mickey Mouse it would have meant four. -in cats is all the cats of the same litter, -in children is all the children of a family (or the sibs born at the same time if bearing more than one child at a time is normal). Because of that, -en sometimes have the connotation of "more than expected". Furthermore, there's aì- for marking the lack/zero number of something. This one contrasts with ë-, which means that the something doesn't exist at all, anywhere. There's also -Vm (reduplicated vowel if the word ends in a consonant) for marking a set (making a singular/ mass noun for a collection, one can use it for "all of the Xes"), -na for marking a subset ("some of the Xes/a faction within X"), and -ax for marking a member of a set that isn't a set itself ("one of the Xes"). The set can contain both animate and inanimate nouns with these. -in can only mark sets of animate nouns. t.