Numeral Classifiers
and the Mass/Count Distinction
Byeong-uk Yi
Philosophy Department
University of Toronto
[email protected]
Mass/Count in Linguistics, Philosophy &
Cognitive Science
Dec. 20, 2012
1
Contents
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Preliminaries 3
Is the Mass/count Distinction Universal? 18
Count Noun Thesis 42
Paranumeral Account 65
Further Issues 83
Summary 104
2
1. PRELIMINARIES
3
Language & Ontology
Mass/Count Nouns
Stuff/Individuals
• Mass nouns
• Stuff or substance
– water, milk, beef, rice
– furniture, cutlery
– satisfaction, patience, success
• Count nouns
– cow, house
– raindrop, rice grain, furn. piece
– mistake
– water, milk, beef, rice
• Individuals of the same kind
– cows, houses
– raindrops, rice grains, chairs
4
Stuff/Individuals
• Aristotle (384-322 BC)
• Matter & form
– The bronze: matter/material
– The statue: form/shape
• Compounds
– Concrete
– Individuals belonging to a kind
5
Mass/Count
• Otto Jespersen (1860-1943)
• The Philosophy of Grammar
(1924)
• Thing words/countables
• Mass words/uncountables
6
Digression 1
• Joseph Edkins
– Shanghai dialect (1853/1868)
– Mandarin (1857/1864)
• Yuen-Ren Chao
– A Grammar of Spoken Chinese (1968)
7
Diagression 2
• Bloomberg
• Language (1933)
• English nouns
• Proper nouns
• Common nouns
– Bounded nouns
– Unbounded nouns
• Mass nouns
• Abstract nouns
• Determiner criteria
8
Count Nouns (Jespersen)
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
House
Horse
Day
Mile
Sound
Word
Crime
Plan
mistake
9
Mass Nouns (Jespersen)
• The “material”
– Silver, quicksilver, water, butter, gas, air
• The “immaterial”
– Leisure, music, traffic, success, tact, commonplace
– ‘nexus-substantives’
• Satisfaction, admiration, refinement (from verbs)
• Restlessness, justice, safety, constancy (from adverbs)
10
What distinguishes them?
• “There are a great many
words which do not call up
the idea of some definite
things with a certain shape
or precise limits. I call
these ‘mass-words’.” (198)
• Mistake vs. success
• Rice
11
Syntactic Criteria (Jespersen)
• “while countables are ‘quantified’ by means of
such words as one, two, many, few, mass-words
are quantified by means of such words as much,
little, less.” (198)
• The “notion of number” is “logically inapplicable
to mass-words” (200)
– “In an ideal language constructed on purely logical
principles a form which implied neither singular nor
plural would be … called for” mass-words (198)
12
Morphosyntactic Criteria (Standard)
• Morphology: Singular/plural forms
– Count: cow/cows
– Mass: water/*waters, milk/*milks
• Numeral
– Count: three cows
– Mass: *three {water(s), milk(s)}
• Determiners
– Count: {many, few} cows
– Mass: {much, little, less} milk
13
Digression : Bare Noun Criterion
• Bloomberg (1933, 205)
– Determiners
– About English nouns
• “Bounded nouns in the singular number
require a determiner (the house, a house)
• “Unbounded nouns require a determiner for
the definite category only (the milk : milk)”
14
Mass/Count: Semantics
Count
Mass
• Count nouns denote
individuals belonging to a
certain kind.
• ‘horse’ denotes any
(individual) horse.
• Mass Nouns refer to (or are
names of) stuffs or
substances.
• J. S. Mill
• ‘water’ (or ‘gold’) is a name
of a stuff: water (or gold).
– Connotation & denotation
• Quine
– “individuative” (1969)
– “divided reference” (1960)
15
SUMMARY
THE USUAL MASS/COUNT DISTINCTION
16
• Otto Jespersen
– The Philosophy of Grammar
• Two Features
– Primarily Morphosyntactic Distinction
– Drawn for English and the like
• Additional theories of semantics
– Quine (1960)
– Others
• Chierchia
17
2. IS THE MASS/COUNT
DISTINCTION UNIVERSAL?
18
2.1. LANGUAGE DIVERSITY
19
Various Views
• Some languages don’t have the category of
nouns.
• Some (or all) languages do not at all draw a
distinction between mass and count nouns.
• Some languages do not have count nouns (or
mass nouns).
20
+Count Nouns
-Count Nouns
+Mass Nouns
English et al.
Tagalog
CL Languages (the mass noun thesis)
-Mass Nouns
Hopi (Whorff 1956)
21
Classifier Languages
• East Asia
–
–
–
–
Chinese (contemporary dialects)
Japanese
Korean
Thai, Malaysian, etc.
• Other Areas
– in America
• Yucatec Maya, etc.
– India
• Some Indo-European languages, etc.
– Others
22
Numeral Classifiers
English
Mandarin
• Three cows
• San tou niu
3 CL cow
‘three cows’
• Three pounds of meat
• San bang (de) rou
3 pound (GEN) meat
23
English analogues
•
•
•
•
Three head of cattle
Three head of {shorthorns, black men}
Three sail of ships
Three stems of roses
24
Asides
• Development of Classifiers in Chinese
• Classical Chinese & Tagalog
• Mandatory & optional classifier systems
25
The Standard Approach
The Proposed Alternative
• The mass/count distinction
is a parochial feature of
English and other similar
languages.
• The distinction runs deeper
than the usual (syntactic)
criteria suggest.
• The distinction is
inapplicable to a wide range
of languages.
• Classifier languages have
only mass nouns.
• It applies to a much wider
range of languages.
• CL languages have (robust)
count nouns as well as mass
nouns.
26
Classifier Languages and the Mass Noun Thesis
2.2. THE STANDARD APPROACH
27
Mass Noun Thesis
No Count Nouns
Mass Nouns Only
• Classifier languages have no
count nouns.
• All common nouns of
classifier languages are
mass nouns.
28
Proponents of the MNT
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Keith Allan (1977)
Chad Hanson (1983)
Godehard Link (1991)
Gil (1992)
John A. Lucy (1992)
Manfred Krifka (1995)
Gennaro Chierchia (1998)
Hagit Borer (2005): super-MNT
29
Asides
Weak/Syntactic MNT
• CL language nouns
‘furniture’
• semantically count yet
syntactically mass
• Proponents
Semi-MNT
• W. V. Quine (1969)
• Greenberg (1972)
• Allan (1977)
– Doetjes (1996)
– Cheng & Sybesma (1998; 2005)
– Chierchia (1998; 2010)
30
Measure Word Thesis
• Classifiers are a kind of measure words.
• Classifiers have the same semantic function as
the usual measure words (e.g. pound or bang)
31
Numeral Classifiers
English
Mandarin
• Three cows
• San tou niu
3 CL cow
‘three cows’
• Three pounds of meat
• San bang (de) rou
3 pound (GEN) meat
32
Measure Word Thesis & MNT
Question
Answer/Explanation
• Why does the Chinese niu
need a classifier to combine
with numerals while the
English ‘cow’ can directly
combine with numerals?
Mass Noun Thesis: unlike
‘cow’, niu is a mass noun.
Measure Word Thesis: The
classifier tou is a kind of
measure word.
33
Count Noun Approach
2.3. THE PROPOSED ALTERNATIVE
34
• The mass/count distinction runs deeper than the
usual criteria for the distinction suggests.
• It has a substantial cognitive basis.
• It applies to classifier languages as well.
• Classifier languages have (robust) count nouns as
well as mass nouns.
35
Count Noun Thesis
• CL languages have
(robust) count
nouns as well as
mass nouns.
• CL languages have
morphosyntactic devices
for distinguishing count
nouns from mass nouns.
• Syntactically count
36
Paranumeral Thesis
• The role of classifiers (in the strict sense)
• Classifiers are paranumerals for one.
• cousins of numerals for one
• Syntactic peers of measure words
• Other paranumerals: pair, couple, dozen, score, etc.
37
• draw syntactic parallels with
measure words (and other
paranumerals)
• Diverge semantically from
measure words
• Numeratives
– Measure words
– Other paranumerals
– Classifiers
• Closer semantically to other
paranumerals
38
CNT & Paranumeral Thesis
• Paranumerals match
only with count nouns.
• Classifiers match only
with count nouns.
– three {dozen, dozens of}
cows
– *three {dozen, dozens of}
water(s)
39
Summary
2.4. TWO APPROACHES
40
Standard Approach
CN Approach
Noun System
Mass Noun Thesis
Count Noun Thesis
Role of Classifiers
Measure Word Thesis
Paranumeral Thesis
Implication
CL nouns require classifiers.
Classifier-taking nouns must be
count.
41
Classifier Language Nouns
3. COUNT NOUN THESIS
42
Count Noun Thesis
• Classifier languages also have count nouns as
well as mass nouns.
• They also have devices for drawing a syntactic
distinction between mass and count nouns.
43
• Non-mandatory classifier system
• Quantifiers specific to numbers
• Counterparts of ‘each’ (adverbial use)
• Size and shape adjectives
44
3.1. NON-MANDATORY CLASSIFIER
SYSTEMS
45
• Some languages have
non-mandatory
classifier systems.
• Cf. Standard Approach
– CL nouns require
classifiers.
• Some nouns of those CL
languages can combine
directly with numerals.
46
• Incomplete classifier system
– Vietnamese
• Nouns with non-mandatory classifiers
– Korean
– Malay
47
3.2. QUANTIFIERS SPECIFIC TO
NUMBERS
48
The usual observation
• CL languages have
no separate words
for many & much
henduo niu
a.lot cow
‘many cows (a lot of cows)’
• Nor for few & little
henduo shui
‘much water (a lot of water)’
49
Number-specific
• Counterparts of ‘countless’
• Counterparts of ‘a majority (of)’
• Cousins of ‘many’ or ‘few’
– ‘a (large) number of’
– ‘a small number of’
50
A. Counterparts of ‘countless’
• ‘countless’,
‘innumerable’
• Chinese
Wu.shu-de
• [Not] + [Number/Count]
+ adjective marker
• Japanese
mu.suu-no
• Korean
mu.swu-han
51
B. Counterparts of ‘a majority’
• ‘a majority (of)’
• Chinese
Da.duo.shu
• ‘a greater number (of)’
• [Large(r)] + [a.lot] +
[number] (+ adj.
marker)
• Japanese
Dai.ta.su
• Korean
tay.ta.su
52
C. Cousins of ‘many’
• ‘many’
• ‘a large number (of)’, ‘a
lot in number’
• [number] + [a.lot] + adj.
marker
• Japanese
Kazu-ooku-no
‘(very) many’
• Korean
Swu.man(h).un
‘(very) many’
53
Mass/count
Count Nouns
Mass Nouns
• Wu.shu-de niu
‘countless cows’
• *Wu.shu-de {shui, rou}
‘*countless {water, meat}’
• Da.duo.shu niu
‘a majority of cows’
• *Da.duo.shu {shui, rou}
‘*a majority of {water, meat}
• Swu.man(h).un so
‘many cows’ (Korean)
• *Swu.man(h).un {mwul, koki}
‘*many {water, meat}’ (Kor.)
54
3.3. THE ADVERBIAL ‘EACH’
55
The adverbial ‘each’
• The adverbial use of
‘each’
• ‘They each are somewhat
different.’
– ‘Each of the cows is
somewhat different.’
– ‘*Each of the water is
somewhat different.’
• Chinese
ge (各)
• Japanese
sorezore
• Korean
kak.kak
56
Chinese ge
• Niu (dou) ge you . . . .
cow (all) each have . . .
‘Each cow has . . . .’
• *Shui (dou) ge you . . . .
water (all) each have . . .
‘*Each water has . . . .’
57
3.4. SIZE-SHAPE ADJECTIVES
58
Size-shape adjectives
• ‘large’, ‘big’, ‘triangular’, ‘square’
• Quine (1960), McCawley (1975), Bunt (1975)
• Not combine with mass nouns
– Exception: ‘?large furniture’ (McCawley)
59
• CL languages have count nouns combining
directly with size-shape adjectives.
• Many classifiers relate to sizes or shapes.
60
Digression
3.5. THE SYNTACTIC MNT
61
Different Kinds of Mass Nouns
• Central group
• “substance-mass”
• Silver, quicksilver,
water, butter, gas, air,
etc.
• “Object-mass” nouns
• furniture, silverware,
jewelry, clothing, traffic,
infantry, footwear, etc.
• Hybrids
• syntactically mass
• semantically count
62
Syntactic MNT
• Doetjes (1996), Cheng & Sybesma (1998;
2005), Chierchia (1998; 2010)
• Classifier language count nouns are akin to
‘furniture’.
• Syntactically mass, albeit semantically count
63
Count Noun Thesis
• CL language count nouns are robust count
nouns.
• They can be distinguished syntactically from
mass nouns.
• They differ syntactically from “object-mass”
nouns of English.
64
CL Language Count Nouns
“Object-mass” nouns
• counterparts of ‘cow’
• *countless furniture
– Niu (Chinese)
– ushi (Japanese)
– So (Korean)
• wu.shu-de niu
‘countless cows’
• *Very many furniture
• *three pairs of furniture
65
The Function of Classifiers
4. PARANUMERAL ACCOUNT
66
• What is the role of classifiers?
67
• Why do CL languages count nouns require
classifiers to combine with numerals?
• Why do (all/most/some) CL language count
nouns regularly take classifiers to combine
with numerals?
68
The function of classifiers
Syntactic
Semantic
• Syntactic peers of measure
words (and other
numeratives)
• Diverges semantically from
measure words
• Paranumerals for one
• Cousins of numerals for one
(serving as numeratives)
69
Paranumerals
English Paranumerals
• ‘pair’, ‘couple’, ‘dozen’,
‘score’
Chinese Paranumerals
• Numerative use
• Paranumerals for one
– ‘Three dozen eggs’
– ‘Three dozens of eggs’
• Dui ‘pair, couple’, shuang ‘pair,
couple’, da ‘dozen’
– zhi CL (one.of.a.pair)
– Other classifiers
70
Classifiers & Numeratives
Numeratives
Classifiers
• “Classifiers” in the broad
sense
• include measure words
• Classifiers in the proper
sense
• Do not include measure
words
• Edkins (1853/68; 1857/64)
• Yuen Ren Chao (1968)
– li ngc
– “Measure word” (“quantity
word”)
• Chao (1968)
– Individual measures
– Classifiers
– “numeratives”
71
Diversity of Numeratives
• Measure words
– Pound, gram, feet
– Cup(ful)
– Piece, slice
• Classifiers
– Tou (animal), ben (book)
• Others?
72
Bipartite Classification
• Lyons (1977)
– Mensural classifiers
– Sortal classifiers
• James Tai & L. Wang (1990)
– Measure words
– classifiers
• Cheng & Sybesma (1998; 1999; 2005)
– Massifiers (mass classifiers)
– Classifiers (count classifiers)
73
Further Diversity
• Edkins (1853/68; 1857/64)
– 5 groups
• Chao (1968)
– 9 groups
– 5 (central) + 4 (peripheral)
74
Chao’s Classification
• Classifiers
• Group
– Qun ‘group flock’, zu ‘section, group’
– Zhong ‘kind, species’, lei ‘kind, category’
– Dui ‘pair, couple’, shuang ‘pair, couple’, da ‘dozen’
• Partitive: pian ‘slice’
• Container: bei ‘cup’
• Standard: bang ‘pound’
75
Paranumeral numeratives
• Chinese
• Dui ‘pair, couple’
• shuang ‘pair, couple’
• da ‘dozen’
• English
– pair, couple
– dozen
– Score
• Paranumerals for 2, 12,
20, etc.
• Are there paranumerals
for one?
76
Classifiers as Paranumerals
• Classifiers are
paranumerals for one.
• Cousins of numerals for
one.
• There are usually many
classifiers because they
have constraints on the
kind of nouns they can
match.
77
Classifiers as Numeratives
English
Chinese
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Three pounds of meat
Three boxes of oranges
Three slices of bread
Three pairs of parrots
San bang rou
San xiang juzi
San pian mianbao
San dui yingwu
• San tou niu
• Three cows
78
Digression
•
•
•
•
Three pounds of meat
Three boxes of oranges
Three slices of bread
Three pairs of parrots
• Three head of {cattle,
shorthorns, black men}
• Three sail of ships
• Three stems of roses
• Three cows
79
Paranumeral Account
• Classifiers are paranumeral numeratives for
one.
• Syntactic parity with measure words and
other paranumeral numeratives.
• Diverge semantically from measure words.
80
Classifiers and One (Yi 2100a)
• The Chinese classifier zhi (one.of.a.pair)
• Numerals for powers of ten as numeratives
(Burling & Chao)
• The Burmerese general Cl –khu (Burlign 1965)
• The Korean general CL –kay and nath ‘one’
• Others
81
The Burmese -khu
• “Burmese speakers sometimes include –khu in
the same series as the classifiers for the
powers of ten: she, ‘ten,’ ya, ‘hundred,’ thaun,
‘thousand,’ etc.” (Burling 1965, 262)
82
Paranumerals & Count Nouns
• Classifiers can match
only count nouns,
because they are
paranumerals.
• Edkins
• ‘pair’, ‘dozen’, etc. also
match only count
nouns.
• Chao
– “distinctive”
numeratives and
“appellative” nouns
– “Individual measures”
and “individual
nouns”
83
5. FURTHER ISSUES
84
5.1. FEAFURES OF CL LANGAUGES
85
CL Languages:
Commonly Cited Features
• Absence of the singular/plural morphology
• Classifier system
• Bare nouns
• Absence of the many/much distinction
• (Mass Nouns Only)
86
• Chierchia
• Claim: the features
cluster together.
• The features do not
cluster together.
87
• Mass nouns only (mass noun thesis)?
– Count noun thesis
• Absence of the many/much distinction?
– Counterparts of ‘(very) many’, ‘few’, ‘countless’
• Mandatory classifiers?
– Incomprehensive classifier systems
– Optional classifiers
– Paranumeral thesis
88
Bare nominals
• Can count nouns form bare
singular nominal phrases?
Absence of S&P Forms
• Can count nouns lack
singular & plural forms?
89
5.2. BARE NOUNS
90
Articles & Bare Nominals
Languages with articles
• Development of determiner
system
• Restricted use of bare
nominals
Languages without articles
• No substantial determiner
system
• Regular use of bare
nominals
91
+ CL system
- CL system
+ article system
Some CL languages?
Hungarian?
Modern Germanic
Romance
Tagalog (no S/P morphology)
- Article system
(most) CL languages
Latin
Hindi
Old English
Archaic Chinese
92
Bloomberg on determiners
• This habit of using certain noun expressions
always with a determiner is peculiar to some
languages, such as the modern Germanic and
Romance. Many languages have not this habit;
in Latin, for instance, domus ‘house’ requires
no attribute and is used indifferently where
[sic] we say the house or a house. (1933, 203)
93
• Yi (2012) & (preprint)
94
5. SINGULAR/PLURAL
MORPHOLOGY
95
• Why do classifier language count nouns not
take singular or plural forms?
• Can count nouns lack singular & plural forms?
96
• The s/p morphology is
not an essential feature
of count nouns.
• Languages with and
without a GN system
• The morphology is par
of the grammatical
number system.
• In languages without a
GN system, count nouns
do not take singular or
plural forms.
97
+ CL system
- CL system
+ GN system
Some CL languages?
Hungarian?
Most Indo-European
- GN system
Most CL languages
Tagalog
Archaic Chinese
98
Tagalog & Classical Chinese
• No grammatical number system
– Nouns do not have singular or plural forms.
• No classifier system
• The mass/count distinction
– Count nouns combine directly with numerals.
– Count nouns denotes any two or more of some
things belonging to a certain kind as well as any
one of those.
99
Aside
• Tagalog has articles (or noun markers).
• Archaic Chinese has no articles.
100
Count Nouns with S/P Forms
Nouns
• Cow
Singular & plural forms
• Singular form
– cow– Denotes any one cow
• Denotes any one or more
cows
• Plural form
– Cows
– Denotes any (one or) more
cows
101
Archaic Chinese
• San niu
3
cow (cf. cow- )
‘three cows’
Mandarin
• San tou niu
3
CL cow (cf. cow- )
‘three cows’
102
Contemporary Korean
Non-CL form
• haksayng seys
student 3
‘three students’
CL form
• haksayng sey myeng
student 3 CL
‘three students’
103
• CL language count nouns are counterparts of
English nouns.
• Not of their singular forms.
• CL language counterparts of ‘cow’ denote
– Any (two or more) cows, as well as
– Any (one) cow
104
6. SUMMARY
105
The Mass/Count Distinction
• Runs deeper than the usual accounts suggest.
• Runs across a much wide variety of languages.
106
• Does not depend on the s/p morpholoy.
• Does not depend on the possibility of direct
combination with numerals.
• Compatible with the possibility of (regularly)
forming bare nominals.
107
Classifier Languages
• Dissociation of Commonly Cited Features of
Classifier Languages
– Absence of the singular/plural morphology
– Classifier system
– Bare nouns
– Absence of the many/much distinction
– (Mass Nouns Only)
108
Classifier languages
• The Count Noun Thesis
• Count nouns without the singular/plural
morphology.
• The paranumeral account
• Classifiers match only with count nouns.
109
• THANK YOU!
• http://philosophy.utoronto.ca/people/faculty/
byeong-uk-yi
– “Numeral classifiers and count nouns”
110
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Numeral Classifiers and the Mass/Count Distinction