Numeral Classifier Systems: The Case of Japanese

Overview

Numeral Classifier Systems considers the functional significance of the Japanese numeral system, its conclusions based on a corpus of 500 uses of classifier constructions drawn from oral and written Japanese texts.
Interestingly, although the Japanese system appears to conform at least superficially to universalistic predictions about its semantic structure, this study reports that in actual usage, the semantic role of classifiers is slight — only very rarely do they carry any ...
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Overview

Numeral Classifier Systems considers the functional significance of the Japanese numeral system, its conclusions based on a corpus of 500 uses of classifier constructions drawn from oral and written Japanese texts.
Interestingly, although the Japanese system appears to conform at least superficially to universalistic predictions about its semantic structure, this study reports that in actual usage, the semantic role of classifiers is slight — only very rarely do they carry any lexical information unavailable from the context or the noun with which the classifier occurs. It does appear, however, that the system has an important role to play in providing pronoun-like anaphoric elements and in marking pragmatic distinctions such as the individuatedness of referents and the newness of numerical information. For these reasons, the classifier system is deeply involved in a number of subsystems of Japanese grammar, and the demise of the system (sometimes rumored to be impending) would have substantial implications for the structure of the language as a whole.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781556193705
  • Publisher: Benjamins, John Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Series: Studies in Discourse and Grammar Series
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.70 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Transcription Conventions
Key to Charts, Figures, and Tables
Ch. 1 Introduction 1
Ch. 2 The Japanese System - History and Morphology 35
Ch. 3 Semantic Properties of System Members 53
Ch. 4 Structure of the Lexical Field 121
Ch. 5 Instantiation of Universal Semantic Trends in the Japanese Numeral Classifier System 135
Ch. 6 The Anaphoric Use of Classifier Phrases 159
Ch. 7 The Use of Classifier Phrases and Plural Markers as Individuators 193
Ch. 8 The Syntactic Position of the Numeral-Classifier Phrase 219
Ch. 9 Diachronic Prognosis 263
Notes 269
Appendix 1 Questionnaire Instructions 289
Appendix 2 Forms Listed on Questionnaire 293
References 311
Index 327
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