Linguistics Colloquium: Keren Khrizman

13/06/2017 - 14:00 - 15:30

Keren Khrizman, Bar Ilan University

Title: Functional Unit Classifiers in (Non)-Classifier Russian
 
Abstract:

It has often been argued that functional individuating classifiers and plural count nouns ought to be in complementary distribution (e.g. Borer 2005, Chierchia 2010). This view is based primarily on the contrast between classifier (mass) languages such as Chinese and so called non-classifier languages such as English. Russian, however, is an interesting case. On the one hand it has count nouns which can be directly modified by numerals. On the other hand it has three classifiers, štuka ‘item’, čelovek ‘person’ and golova  ‘head’, which optionally occur in numeral constructions with plural nouns and look very much like functional individuating classifiers (cf. Sussex 1976, Yadroff 1999). I will show that a closer examination of the data reveals that apparently count constructions using these optional classifiers have properties of measure constructions such as five liters of water. Based on that I argue that: (i) these classifiers are not individuating classifiers which map non-count mass denotations onto count; (ii) instead, they are best analyzed as measure words similar to liter which measure mass denotations in terms of natural units in the sense of Krifka (1989, 1995).

 

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