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Chapter 8. When number meets classification

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Abstract

This paper presents an account of number marking in two Ba&#195;&#175;nounk languages, Gub&#195;&#171;eher and Gujaher, also taking data from the Ba&#195;&#175;nounk language Gu&#195;&#177;aamolo into account. Number distinctions in these languages are coded epiphenominally through the paradigmatic relationships and combinatorial semantics of prefixes and roots within the nominal classification system. In addition, number can be marked through a dedicated plural suffix of the form <i>-V&#197;&#8249;</i>. In line with observations made for Bantu and other Atlantic languages, we analyse number marking within the noun class system (and, to some extent also through the number suffix) as derivational, not inflectional. Additionally, we demonstrate that number values do not reside in noun class prefixes themselves, but arise through the paradigmatic relationships holding between prefix and root and between prefix-root combinations in a paradigm. This account goes against a widespread analytical template of assigning singular and plural values to prefixes and assuming number correspondences between them.

References

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