Counting Unit Words as Nominal Auxiliaries
Niina Ning Zhang
September 2009

This paper discusses the syntax of counting unit words, which are in construal with both a numeral and an NP, and exhibit properties of both functional and lexical elements. Using Mandarin Chinese as a sample language, the paper (A) identifies the shared properties of various kinds of counting unit words, including measure words and numeral classifiers, and their shared surface position; (B) divides them into Individual-Level and Range-Level ones, and argues for their different base positions. Counting unit words are analyzed as nominal auxiliaries that realize the head of a functional projection. Based on the newly explored properties of numeral classifiers, the paper argues against the assumption that the occurrence of numeral classifiers with count nouns correlates with the alleged mass noun status of all nouns in the language. Instead, the paper argues that the occurrence is possible because nominal auxiliaries may apportion entities in a way of representing the natural units of entities that show atomicity. It is this property of nominal auxiliaries that is absent in non-classifier languages. Thus the contrast is not in the semantics of noun roots at all. (35 pages)
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/000936
(please use that when you cite this article)
keywords: classifier, auxiliary, numeral, counting, measure word, apportion, noun
previous versions: v2 [September 2009]
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