LINGUIST List 31.2020

Fri Jun 19 2020

Qs: The Typology of Pluralia Tantum Nouns

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 18-Jun-2020
From: İsa Kerem Bayırlı <>
Subject: The Typology of Pluralia Tantum Nouns
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Dear All,

There seems to be some cross-linguistic variation as to whether a language has pluralia tantum nouns. English contains a set of nouns that are syntactically usable only in the plural form (pants, scissors etc.) even though such nouns seem to denote non-plural entities. In Turkish, on the other hand, there do not seem to be nouns of this sort.

I was wondering if there is any typological work that provides a list of languages that have pluralia tantum nouns.

More specifically, I am interested in the following generalization:

If a language possesses pluralia tantum nouns,
then there is at least one type of nominal modification elements (adjectives, numerals, demostratives etc..) that exhibits obligatory plural agreement (i.e. plural concord) with the head noun.

Please do let me know if you are aware of any languages that seem to invalidate the generalization given above.

Best Regards,
İsa Kerem Bayırlı
TOBB University of Economics and Technology
Ankara, Turkey

Linguistic Field(s): Typology

Page Updated: 19-Jun-2020