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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The Grammar of Individuation and Counting Add Dissertation
Author: Suzi Lima Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2014
Linguistic Subfield(s): Language Documentation; Psycholinguistics; Semantics; Language Acquisition;
Language Family(ies): Juruna
Director(s): Angelika Kratzer
Lyn Frazier

Abstract: This dissertation investigates the linguistic expression of individuation and counting in Yudja (Juruna family), a Tupi language spoken in Brazil. Based on elicitation data and experimental studies with children and adults, three main topics are explored: (i) the semantic properties of numeral constructions and their compatibility with notional count and notional mass nouns; (ii) the semantics of container phrases and their interaction with numerals, and finally (iii) the semantics of nominal quantifiers. It is shown that in Yudja numerals and count quantifiers (such as many in English) can be directly combined with notional count (dog) and notional mass nouns (water). Based on this fact, the main claim of this dissertation is that in Yudja all nouns can be used as count nouns. That is, in this language maximal self-connected concrete portions of a kind can be considered as atoms and can be counted. This claim is made based on three fundamental properties of this language that were supported by experimental studies with children and adults. First (Chapter 2), the data elicit in context-based elicitation sessions show that notional count and crucially notional mass nouns can be directly combined with numerals even when coercion is not possible (assuming that the requirements for coercion – universal packager - are the same across languages). Second (Chapter 5), the results of quantity judgments studies with Yudja children and adults suggest that all nouns can be directly combined with count-quantifiers and that count-quantifiers are necessarily interpreted as referring to the number of concrete portions. These two properties together suggest that in Yudja there are no linguistic expressions that select only notional count nouns such as pïza ‘canoe’ or iidja ‘woman’. To conclude, based on felicity judgment tasks with Yudja children and adults, it is shown that container phrases can be interpreted as locatives and do not necessarily determine the individuation unit in the Yudja language which further supports the claim that in this language all nouns can be interpreted as count nouns.