Journal of Semantics 29 (2):229-260 (2012)

Patterns of plural marking and numeral modification in Indonesian provide an interesting test bed for theories of the semantics of numeral classifiers and plurality. Cross-linguistically, the presence of numeral classifiers in a language is strongly connected with the absence or optionality of plural marking; this generalization is the basis of Chierchia’s (1998a, 1998b) nominal mapping parameter and also accords with established typological generalizations (Greenberg, 1972), (Aikhenvald, 2000), (Corbett, 2000). In Indonesian, plural marking as both reduplication and classifiers in numeral modification constructions are optional, and bare (non-reduplicated) Indonesian nouns are best analysed as exhibiting general number (Greenberg, 1972), (Carson, 2000), (Corbett, 2000), rather than corresponding to the unmarked member of a singular–plural opposition. Unlike many languages with general number, Indonesian exhibits no mass–count distinction: notionally ‘mass’ and notionally ‘count’ nouns do not differ in their grammatical behaviour and participate equally in reduplication and numeral modification constructions. We provide an analysis of the semantics of reduplication, classifiers, and numeral modification in Indonesian which rests on the lack of a mass–count distinction and explains the strong dispreference for numeral modification of reduplicated nouns
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DOI 10.1093/jos/ffr015
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