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Phoronyms

Classifiers, Class Nouns, and the Pseudopartitive Construction

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Christopher Beckwith

This is the first book devoted to the phoronym, a largely overlooked grammatical category that includes measures such as «cup» in «a cup of tea», classifiers such as «head» in «ten head of cattle», and other types, all of which occur in the pseudopartitive construction. Both measures and noun classification (the defining feature of classifiers) are thought to occur in all languages, so the phoronym is a linguistic universal. This book is the first to combine the two major theoretical approaches to the topic and includes the first detailed studies of group classifiers and repeaters, as well as the first study of classifiers in Finnish and Russian. It also covers class nouns and their components – which are connected grammatically and semantically to both classifiers and gender – and discusses possible connections of classifiers with sublinguistic cognition. The analysis focuses on Mandarin Chinese, English, Japanese, and Thai, but Finnish, Hungarian, Tibetan, Uzbek, and other languages are also discussed.