Volume 46, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0731-3500
  • E-ISSN: 2214-5907
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This article presents a frequently used versatile classifier in the endangered Ngwi language Zauzou. After investigating seven morphosyntactic contexts in which may occur, this classifier exhibits considerable syntactic and semantic overlaps with ordinary classifiers and the inanimate plural quantifier in this language. is used as the only classifier for unclassified nouns (i.e., some abstract and count nouns) and an alternative classifier for nearly all kinds of ordinary sortal or mensural classifiers for inanimates, especially when the canonical classifier is not known to the speaker. It shares a wide range of distributions with ordinary numeral classifiers and the plural quantifier and parallels these two classes of determiners in marking various referential values in different noun phrases. However, is semantically special in that it may classify nouns of various semantic classes, including abstract and mass nouns, and is underspecified in number. It is compatible with singular, plural and mass interpretations. The final quantity in the reference must be determined in the context. Moreover, is a lexical item involved in marking partitives, the function that is not found in ordinary classifiers and the plural quantifier. This study is a systematic description of an under-studied type of versatile classifier, highlighting the internal complexity of a classifier system in Tibeto-Burman languages.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): classifier; definiteness; mass noun; Ngwi; number; plural quantifier
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