LINGUIST List 12.1116

Mon Apr 23 2001

Qs: Diminutive "-s"/British Eng, Mass/Count Nouns

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  1. Ric Morris, Diminutive (?) "-s" in British English
  2. Lotfi, Mass/Count Nouns

Message 1: Diminutive (?) "-s" in British English

Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001 11:18:47 -0500
From: Ric Morris <>
Subject: Diminutive (?) "-s" in British English

As part of a study on "special" morphology across languages, I am
investigating the specific function of the suffix "-s" in certain
British English diminutive forms. I am uncertain as to whether
"diminutive" is even a viable classification; I am also still quite
short on sample data.

Here are some tetantive examples, all of which I assume are singular in

"rugger-s" (from rugby/rugger?)
"meth-s" (from methane?)
"walkie-s" (used with dogs?)

(note: I believe that this set excludes examples like "math-s," in which
the "-s" is recovered from the base form "mathematic-s" and therefore
not entirely unexpected.)

I would be grafteful for comments/suggestions from anyone who is aware
of more words of this type or who has insight into the function of this
construction, or who knows of a similar construction in another


Ric Morris
Assistant Professor of Spanish and Linguistics
Department of Foreign Languages and Litreratures
Middle Tennessee State University
Murfreesboro, TN 37132
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Message 2: Mass/Count Nouns

Date: 23 Apr 2001 11:08:20 EDT
From: Lotfi <>
Subject: Mass/Count Nouns

Dear Linguists,
A Colleague of mine (Farzad Sharifian at Cowen University) and
I are conducting a research within the framework of cognitive
linguistics concerning mass-count nouns in Persian. We noticed
that in Persian Conversational Style, nouns that are normally
mass ones (in a language like English) can be either mass or
count depending upon the speaker's conceptualisation of the
noun in question:
1. Ab-e darya bala umad.
 water-of sea high came
 "The sea level rose"
2. Maman ab-a-ro ba dasmal ye gushe jam kard.
 Mum water-PL-DO with cloth a corner gather did
 "Mum gathered the water in a corner with a cloth"
Apparently, a count noun conceptualisation is preferred in cases the
speaker conceives of them as (a) particles/g rains/drops (scattered
about), e.g. BERENJ-A 'rices': grains of rice (b) sth parcelled into
countable units (hence, BERENJ-A 'rices' in reference to bags of
rice), (c) multi-typal interpretation: BERENJ-A 'rices'--different
rice varieties, (d) multi-locational interpretation: BERENJ-A
'rices'--rice grown in different parts of a single field/different
fields, and (e) iterative: BERENJ-A 'rices'--meals of rice cooked
on different occasion.
Do you know of similar phenomena in other languages? If I receive
enough feedback, I'll post a summary to the list.
Ahmad R. Lotfi
- ------------------------------------------------------------
 Ahmad R. Lotfi, Ph. D
 English Dept, Chair
 Azad University (Khorasgan)
 Esfahan, IRAN.
- -----------------------------------------------------------
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