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Academic Paper


Title: Bangla Numerals and Problems of Computability
Author: Debaprasad Bandyopadhyay
Email: click here to access email
Homepage: http://isid.academia.edu/DebaprasadBandyopadhyay
Institution: Indian Statistical Institute
Linguistic Field: Semantics
Subject Language: Bengali
Abstract: In this paper, the author tried to depict some non-deterministic and uncertain phenomena revealed in expression of Bangla numerals. The points of arguments are as follows: 1. Human quantification is partly or fully different from analyst’s rigorous quantification. 2. The following corpus from Bangla has a peculiar nature of non-componentiality or they are rather prototypical. This prototypical nature of fuzzy numerals cannot be handled in computational framework or even in the LF.
The first set of data deals with idiomatic expressions like: 1. Sat-paMc Seven-five “pros and cons”; 2. nOy-chOy nine-six “topsy-turvy”; 3. unis-biS, nineteen-twenty “trifle difference” jaHa bahanno taHay tippanno. 5. Whatever is fifty-two, that is fifty-three (i.e. 52=53) "A trifle difference does not count."
The second problem may be termed as “one is not equal to one” problem. A rule of “one deletion” was proposed by Dasgupta (1987).5 dokanduTo shop-two-classifier. 6. dokanTa shop-singular-classifier. Obviously, "one” is deleted in 6. However, Dasgupta mentioned that ‘one deletion’ is not true in the cases like 7. jOlTa, Water-classifier or 8. telTa oil-classifier. In Bangla, one cannot say 9. *EkTa jOl ‘One-classifier Oil” However, there are some pragmatic cases where such expressions like 9 is possible. The Speaking subject’s perception may still be “one" in those cases-- it is ‘one’ as a unit--this is not a deterministic physical ‘one’, but one as a whole. When any Bangla speaker says, 10. phrij theke jOlTa ano. fridge from water-classifier bring "Bring water from the fridge.”, his/her intention is to refer “one bottle of water”. Therefore, ‘one” is there in the D-structure, but it is a fuzzy one. The concept of this fuzzy "one" can be further illustrated in the following movement-transformations, where deterministic numeral expressions are changed to non-deterministic Determiner Phrases:
11.a) paMcTa five-classifier (definite)
11.b) goTa paMcek classifier( indef. ) five-one "more or less five "
12.a) paMcjon five-classifier (definite)
12.b) jona paMcek classifier( indef. ) five-one "more or less five "
13.a) paMckhana five-classifier
13.b) khan paMcek ,classifier( indef. ) five-one "more or less five "
14.a) paMc Hajar "five thousand"
14. b) Hajar paMcek thousand five-one. "more or less five thousand"
15.a) paMc lakh, five lacs
15.b) lakh paMcek lacs five-one "more or less five lacs"
Examples like 11-15 show those deterministic expressions in (a) and non-deterministic expressions in (b). Compared to (a), examples in (b) show the fronting of classifiers with subsequent morphophonemic change and an addition of /ek/ “one” to the specific numeral x. This one is not deterministic +-1, but this “one” has a range more or less than +- 1.
These Bangla numeral expressions show the world-views of the community concerned with a special reference to their psychophysical way of looking at things (perception) and ways of making order of things (understanding). Therefore, it is a hermeneutic problem that involves the relative gap between human perception and understanding in relation to habitat. The range of +-1 is different in different persons belonging to different socio-economic classes or even it may be different in a single person in different psychosocial context.
Type: Individual Paper
Status: Completed
Venue: Patiala. 8-10 January, 1999
Publication Info: 2nd. International Conference on South Asian Languages,


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