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English Quasi-Numeral Classifiers

A Corpus-Based Cognitive-Typological Study


Xu Zhang

This book is an interdisciplinary study of English binominal quantitative constructions based on English-Chinese comparison. Taking three perspectives, i.e. a functional-typological perspective, a cognitive approach, and a corpus-based method, it aims to unveil the hidden categorisation process behind the usage of English binominal quantitative constructions and to reveal the language universal in cognising the concepts of ‘Quantity’ and ‘Quality’. It argues against treating Chinese and English as members of two opposing typological camps concerning quantification modes (‘classifier languages’ versus ‘non-classifier languages’) and advocates to view the two languages as lying within a more extended and inclusive system, viz. a system of quantification and categorisation modes, or a Quantity-Quality continuum.

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2. Classification of Classifiers and English QNCs: A Typological Perspective


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2.  Classification of Classifiers and English QNCs: A Typological Perspective

2.1  Introduction

The aim of this chapter is first to offer a functional-typological backdrop of classifier systems, and then against this background, to introduce a concept of English Quasi-Numeral Classifiers.

Section 2.2 will give a brief review of classifier systems in general. 2.3 will focus on the system of NCs, with special reference to Chinese NCs, especially in the light of the two primary functions. With the Chinese NCs as a reference point, and adopting a function-based approach, 2.4 will examine the so-called ‘non-classifier language’ of English to see if any English construction performs the same functions. A concept of English Quasi-Numeral Classifiers (QNCs) will be outlined. Section 2.5 will seek to identify the morphosyntactic form of English QNC structures. 2.6 will further examine the features of QNCs and QNC structures. 2.7 will summarise the gains to be derived from setting up such a concept for English.

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