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C LASSIFIERS ARE FOR NUMERALS , NOT FOR NOUNS : C ONSEQUENCES FOR THE MASS - COUNT DISTINCTION * Alan Bale & Jessica Coon, [email protected], [email protected] December 17, 2013 1 Introduction In languages with numeral classifiers systems, nouns must appear with one of a series of classifiers in order to be modified by a numeral. This squib presents new data from Mi’gmaq (Algonquian) and Chol (Mayan), arguing that numeral classifiers are required due to the syntactic and semantic properties of the numeral (as in Krifka 1995 ), rather than the noun (as in Chierchia 1998 ). The results are shown to have important consequences for the mass-count distinction. Mandarin Chinese is a frequently cited example of a language with obligatory numeral classifiers. As shown in ( 1 ), classifiers cannot be dropped in the presence of numerals. 1 (1) M ANDARIN C HINESE a. liˇang two *( zh¯ang ) CL zhu¯ozi table ‘two tables’ b. liˇang two *( ıng ) CL .bottle jiˇu wine ‘two bottles of wine’ Krifka ( 1995 ) and Chierchia ( 1998 ) provide two very different accounts of the theoretical distinction between languages with obligatory classifiers (like Mandarin) and those without (like English). Chierchia links the distinction to the nominal system, arguing that non-classifier languages have a mass-count distinction among nouns, while classifier languages do not. All nouns in Mandarin are likened to mass nouns in English. Krifka, on the other hand, proposes that the difference lies in the the numeral system. He argues that classifier languages morphologically separate the semantic measure function (i.e., the classifier) from the numerals, whereas non-classifier languages have a measure function incorporated into the numerals. Here we bring in new data from Mi’gmaq and Chol—languages which sometimes use classifiers—in order to distinguish between the two theories. In both languages, certain numerals obligatorily appear * Thanks to David Barner, Brendan Gillon, Peter Jenks, David Nicolas, the audience at NELS 43, and two anonymous reviewers for helpful discussion and feedback. We are especially grateful to Janine Metallic, Mary Ann Metallic, and Janice Vicaire for Mi’gmaq, and to Matilde V´azquez V´azquez, Juan Jes´us V´azquez ´ Alvarez, and Nicol´as Arcos L´opez for Chol. Any errors in data or interpretation are of course our own. 1 There are two basic types of classifiers exemplified in ( 1 ): sortal and mensural ( Lyons 1977 ; Aikhenvald 2000 ). Sortal classifiers, like zh¯ang in ( 1 a), rely on an intrinsic “divided reference” ( Quine 1960 ) separate from the classifier. The classifier itself merely permits counting with respect to this division. Such classifiers sometimes vary in form according to inherent properties of the noun, such as animacy, shape, or consistency. Mensural classifiers, like ıng in ( 1 b), specify a way of dividing a reference (e.g., into packages like bottles, or units of measurement like inches or kilos). Such classifiers can combine with any noun whether they have an inherent divided reference or not. This distinction does not figure into the discussion in this paper. However, most of our
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