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Title: Typology and evolution of cardinal numeral-noun constructions
Author: Pothipath, V.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2008
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To express the exact number of things, humans might be expected to use cardinal numeral-noun construction (CNNCs) consisting of just two constituents, namely a noun (N) representing the number of the quantified things and a cardinal numeral (Num) representing the number of the quantified things (for example, English three sheep). However, the structural patterns of CNNCs used in a number of languages spoken today have seemingly redundant constituents, typically non-singular markers (Nsg), and numeral classifiers (Clf). CNNCs observed in the world’s languages also appear to show a diversity of structural patterns. This observation brings up two related goals of this thesis. The first is to reveal structural types of cardinal numerical-noun constructions of singularity (CNNCsg) and cultural numeral-noun constructions of non-singularity (CNNCn-sg). The other is to hypothesise a possible evolutionary scenario for CNNCs since their emergence until the modern era. This thesis approaches these issues by exploring CNNCs in 230 languages representing 100 language groups across the globe through reference grammars to ensure the greatest range of possible attested structural patterns of CNNCs. This survey demonstrates that, with regard to CNNCsg, the world’s languages are divided into two major types, namely {N,Num} and {N,Num,Clf} with relatively few other possibilities. Regarding CNNCn-sg, the world’s languages are divided into three major types, namely {N,Num}, {N,Num,Nsg} and {N,Num,Clf}. The historical origins of these structural types are investigated using evidence from old written records together with theoretical approaches, especially grammaticalisation. With cross-linguistic comparison integrated with diachronic approaches, hypothesised evolutionary trajectories of CNNCs are postulated. It is conjectured that the construction consisting of a noun plus a word with a numerical interpretation such as the words meaning ‘alone’ or ‘pair’ may represent a possible initial stage of CNNCs. From that stage onwards, CNNCs have split into many types over time. The development is reversible in terms of structural complexity, and idiosyncratic in some cases. Besides, the contributory factors in the development of CNNCs involve a quantifying function, a non-qualifying function, and a mixture of both.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available