Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login
amazon logo
More Info

Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

Subject: Morphemes for plurals
Question: Are there any languages whose standard method of showing plurality
separates the morpheme or phrase that indicates it from the root word
it refers to?

Reply: Tagalog is another language with a plural morpheme that's separate from the head
noun; you can say things like:

ang mga malalaking libro

literally, more or less:

the PLURAL big book

...which means 'the big books'. So the plural word 'mga' doesn't have to be adjacent
to the noun it applies to, and the noun itself doesn't bear any plural morphology. In
this particular case, the adjective 'malalaking' actually has a plural morpheme in it; the
singular would be 'malaking', without the repeated 'la'.

If you'd like to find more languages like this, one place to look would be:

<a href='' target='_blank'></a>;

which is a list of languages from a large typological database, listed by the way they
encode plurality. The languages you're interested in are the ones under 'plural word'.

--Norvin Richards

Reply From: Norvin Richards      click here to access email
Date: 07-Aug-2012
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Morphemes for plurals    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (06-Aug-2012)
  2. Re: Morphemes for plurals    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (08-Aug-2012)
  3. Re: Morphemes for plurals    M J Hardman     (06-Aug-2012)
  4. Re: Morphemes for plurals    Susan Fischer     (06-Aug-2012)
  5. Re: Morphemes for plurals    Herbert Frederic Stahlke     (06-Aug-2012)

Back to Most Recent Questions