The grammaticalization cline of cardinal numerals and numeral systems

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This paper investigates the grammaticalization of cardinal numerals and numeral systems from a crosslinguistic perspective. The grammaticalization cline postulated here starts with a referential expression denoting a body part to a cardinal numeral and leads on to a functional affix which occurs in numeral systems and marks arithmetical operations in complex numeral expressions (e.g. English -<i>teen </i>in <i>fifteen </i>or -<i>ty </i>in <i>fifty</i>). The paper also shows that the numerals of the lowest cardinalities may follow a path different from that of the other simple numerals: they may evolve from pronominal elements, such as demonstratives and determiners, which often derive themselves from the cardinal numeral ‘1.’ The fact that low numerals and pronominal elements can be both each other’s sources and each other’s targets seems to challenge the unidirectionality of grammaticalization.


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