Volume 3, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2665-9336
  • E-ISSN: 2665-9344
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Classifiers in Tani languages are similar in scale and semantic contents to the systems of better-known classifier languages such as Thai and Mandarin. Yet they are unusual in co-existing with an ancient and well-grammaticalised referential management system including both definite and indefinite articles, in lacking a generic classifier, in tending not to use a classifier with human referents, and in occurring exclusively to the right of head nouns, in the order [N CLF NUM]. They are also relatively more lexeme-like, occurring less frequently and with more semantic control than do the classifiers of many other East/Southeast Asian languages. This article will present a basic description of Tani classifier systems, and argue for their relatively recent development through the mechanism of a repeater construction functioning within a pre-existing [A-B B-C] template for taxonomic compound formation. Although this development is similar to pathways attested for other Asian languages, Tani classifiers do not share the same set of functional and distributional outcomes.


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