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Academic Paper

Title: On the semantics of classifier reduplication in Cantonese
Author: Peppina Lee
Linguistic Field: Syntax
Subject Language: Chinese, Yue
Abstract: This paper studies prenominal reduplicative classifier in Cantonese, which has been argued to be a distributive quantifier on a par with English every/each and Mandarin mei ‘every’, and a plural classifier giving the ‘many’ reading. The analysis I propose draws heavily on ideas introduced in the cover theory proposed by Schwarzschild (1996) and Brisson (1998, 2003), and ideas introduced by Partee (2004) and others on quantifying determiner many. I argue that prenominal reduplicative classifier is a quantifying determiner which is ambiguous between a quantifier type and a modifier type. When it occurs with the distributive quantifier dou1 ‘all’, it serves as a modifier, regulating the domain of dou1-quantification by imposing a maximizing effect on the nominal it modifies (see e.g. Link 1983; Gillon 1987; Schwarzschild 1996; Brisson 1998, 2003). Without the presence of a distributive quantifier, prenominal reduplicative classifier serves either as a modifier or as a quantifier, giving its NP a weak cardinal reading or a strong proportional reading, respectively. The proposed analysis implies that domain restriction in Chinese is overtly realized in grammatical form by means of the reduplicative classifier (when combined with a distributive quantifier) and that Chinese may have determiners, which is at least true in Cantonese.


This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 56, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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