LINGUIST List 8.239

Wed Feb 19 1997

Qs: Multilingualism, Loan words, Paucal

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  1. V2188G, Multilingualism question
  2. Rusbasan, Gayle, Spanish loan words in American English
  3. Greville Corbett, Query: paucal number

Message 1: Multilingualism question

Date: Thu, 13 Feb 97 03:14:29 EST
From: V2188G <V2188GVM.TEMPLE.EDU>
Subject: Multilingualism question

First, please forgive the cross-posting. I am very interested in
getting as much feedback as possible from as many people as possible.

I am interested in the dynamics of a situation where a person is not a
native speaker of any language, but learned three from an early age
and now speaks several more. This person, as a result of this
multilingualism, feels a lack of a solid grasp of verbal concepts and
finds that oral communication is actually hampered by what might
otherwise be considered a great gift in communication. Is this a
very common experience? Can you point me to any published literature
on the topic?

Thank you.


 Institute for Global Communication at Nationalities Service Center
 1300 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102 USA (215) 893-8400
 home: 1420 Locust St., 17-R Philadelphia, PA 19102 USA
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Message 2: Spanish loan words in American English

Date: Thu, 13 Feb 1997 10:55:33 GMT-5
From: Rusbasan, Gayle <>
Subject: Spanish loan words in American English

Hello. I am Gayle Rusbasan, a graduate student in linguistics. I am 
doing my Master's paper on Spanish loan words in American English. I 
am interested in discovering why certain words were assimilated and 
others were not. In researching this topic I have found several 
works including _American English_ by Albert Marckwardt which gives a 
general overview. I am looking for more specific research, and I 
have not found anything specifically on my topic by searching the MLA 
Bib. and language databases. If anyone knows of a different database 
to search or similar work done on loan words from other languages, I 
would appreciate the assistance. 

Since this may not be of general interest to the list, you can 
respond to me directly at Thank you for 
your help.
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Message 3: Query: paucal number

Date: Mon, 17 Feb 1997 16:46:52 +0000
From: Greville Corbett <>
Subject: Query: paucal number

The paucal is a grammatical number value used to refer to a small
number of distinct real world entities (roughly 'a few'). It is
found relatively frequently, for instance in Fijian, Paamese, Yimas
and Meryam Mir, in the following configuration:


However, it also occurs in this configuration:


This latter system is found in the Cushitic language Bayso, where the
paucal is used for reference to 'a small discrete number (from two to
six) of individuals' (Hayward 1979:102). Bayso has this system in
nouns, while Kayap=F3, a J=EA language of Brazil, has it in its
pronoun system (Wiesemann 1986:361, 368). It is also found in Avar,
but relatively few nouns are involved (Sulejmanov 1985)

So my question is: Does anyone know of more languages like Bayso,
Kayap=F3 and Avar, with singular, paucal and plural (but no dual) ?

One false trail to avoid: sometimes the term 'paucal' is used for
forms that are required in constructions with lower numerals. For
instance, with the numerals '2', '3' and '4' in Russian, when they
are in a direct case form, a special form of the noun is required,
almost always the same as the genitive singular, but unique at least
in terms of stress for a few nouns , for example dva chas=E1 'two
hours, two o'clock'. However, this form depends entirely on the
presence of the quantifier, it is not part of the number system. This
is shown by that fact that it is not possible to say chas=E1 meaning
'a small number (2-4) hours'. Hence the use of 'paucal' is in my view
inappropriate here and these are not the cases I am looking for.

Depending on the response I will reply to everyone individually or
post a summary to the list.


Hayward, Richard J. 1979. Bayso revisited: some preliminary
 linguistic observations - II. Bulletin of the School of Oriental and
 Africa= n Studies, University of London 42.101-32.

Sulejmanov, Ja. G. 1985. O formax ogranich)ennogo i neogranichennogo
 mnozhestvennogo chisla imen sushchestvitel=B4nyx v avarskom jazyk= e.
 In: K. Sh. Mikailov (ed.) Kategorija chisla v dagestanskix jazykax: s=
 bornik statej, 114-19. Maxachkala: Dagestanskij filial AN SSSR.

Wiesemann, Ursula 1986. The pronoun system of some J=EA and
 Macro-J=EA languages. In: Ursula Wiesemann (ed.) Pronominal Systems
 (Continuum 5), 359-= 80. T=FCbingen: Narr.


Greville G. Corbett
Department of Linguistic and International Studies
University of Surrey
Guildford email:
Surrey, GU2 5XH FAX: +44 1483 302605
Great Britain phone: +44 1483 300800 ext 2849
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