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Re: Number

From:SMITH,MARCUS ANTHONY <smithma@...>
Date:Monday, August 6, 2001, 18:41
On Mon, 6 Aug 2001, J Matthew Pearson wrote:

> I wouldn't be surprised if some language somewhere distinguished the > collective and distributive interpretations grammatically--either by using > different quantifiers (my conlang Tokana does this), or perhaps by using > different plural markers. Maybe some or all of the languages which Marcus > was referring to actually work like this. Then there are languages which > allow you to pluralise the verb itself to indicate multiple events; in such > languages, "Everybody went to the village" could be disambiguated by just > looking at the number marking on the verb.
In Pima, the verb is reduplicated to show plurality of the objects according to rules that are not completely clear at this point. There is some evidence suggesting that being distributed across the objects is relevant. For example, if you beat two dogs, the verb does not reduplicate, but if you beat a dog and a cat, the verb does reduplicate. (Sorry for the violent examples -- I didn't elicit them.) One the other hand, there are instances where you get reduplication with a single type of noun. This is an area that needs more work, but it does support your claim somewhat. (BTW, 'go' does reduplicate for the subject, so your example sentences might be very relevant.) Marcus


dirk elzinga <dirk.elzinga@...>