This article is concerned with the problem of argument-function mismatch observed in the (apparent) subject-object inversion in Chinese consumption verbs, e.g., chi ‘eat’ and he ‘drink’, and accommodation verbs, e.g., zhu ‘live’ and shui ‘sleep’. These verbs seem to allow the linking of 〈agent-SUBJ theme-OBJ〉 as well as 〈agent-OBJ theme-SUBJ〉, but only when the agent is also the semantic role denoting the measure or extent of the action. The account offered is formulated within LFG's lexical mapping theory. Under the simplest and also the strictest interpretation of the argument-function mapping principle (or the θ-criterion), a composite role such as ag-ext receives syntactic assignment via one composing role only; the second composing role must be suppressed. Apparent subject-object inversion occurs when in the competition between the two composing roles, agext, the agent loses out and is suppressed. This account also facilitates a natural explanation of markedness among the competing syntactic structures.
The word order typology of numerals (Num), classifier or measure word (C/M), and noun (N) put forth by Greenberg (1990 , Numerical classifiers and substantival number: Problems in the genesis of a linguistic type. In Keith Denning & Suzanne Kemmer (eds.), On language: Selected writings of Joseph H. Greenberg, 166–193. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press) can be reduced to a universal principle: N does not come between Num and C/M. Given the affinity between this universal and Greenberg’s Universal 20, which concerns the word order typology of D, Num, A, and N, the former is dubbed “Universal 20A” (Her et al. 2015). This paper first discusses, and ultimately rejects, the two alleged exceptions to Universal 20A, one in Ejagham, the other in some Tai-Kadai and Tibeto-Burman languages. Then, in light of Universal 20A, Cinque’s (2005, Deriving Greenberg’s Universal 20 and its exceptions. Linguistic Inquiry 36(3). 315–332) successful antisymmetric account of Universal 20 and all its exceptions is re-examined and shown to be inadequate for Universal 20A. The analysis I propose adopts Abels and Neeleman’s (2012, Linear asymmetries and the LCA. Syntax 15(1). 25–74) symmetric derivational account of Universal 20 and, crucially, takes complex numerals into consideration. The final account also integrates a multiplicative theory of C/M (Her 2012a, Distinguishing classifiers and measure words: A mathematical perspective and implications. Lingua 122(14). 1668–1691) and is able to explain the base-C/M harmonization, which was first discovered by Greenberg (1990 : 292, Generalizations about numeral systems. In Keith Denning & Suzanne Kemmer (eds.), On language: Selected writings of Joseph H. Greenberg, 271–309. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press) but has since been overlooked in classifier research, and also offer a functional explanation for Universal 20A.
This paper offers quantitative typological data to investigate a revised version of the Greenberg-Sanches-Slobin generalization (GSSG), which states that (a) a language is unlikely to have both sortal classifiers and morphosyntactic plural markers, and (b) if a language does have both, then their use is in complementary distribution. Morphosyntactic plurals engage in grammatical agreement outside the noun phrase, while morphosemantic plurals that relate to collective and associative marking do not. A database of 400 phylogenetically and geographically weighted languages was created to test this generalization. The statistical test of conditional inference trees was applied to investigate the effect of areal, phylogenetic, and linguistic factors on the distribution of classifiers and morphosyntactic plural markers. The results show that the presence of classifiers is affected by areal factors as most classifier languages are concentrated in Asia. Yet, the low ratio of languages with both features simultaneously is still statistically significant. Part (a) of the GSSG can thus be seen as a statistical universal. We then look into the few languages that do have both features and tentatively conclude that part (b) also seems to hold but further investigation into some of these languages is needed.
In a numeral classifier language, a sortal classifier (C) or a mensural classifier (M) is needed when a noun is quantified by a numeral (Num). Num and C/M are adjacent cross-linguistically, either in a [Num C/M] order or [C/M Num]. Likewise, in a complex numeral with a multiplicative composition, the base may follow the multiplier as in [n×base], e.g., san-bai ‘three hundred’ in Mandarin. However, the base may also precede the multiplier in some languages, thus [base×n]. Interestingly, base and C/M seem to harmonize in word order, i.e., [n×base] numerals appear with a [Num C/M] alignment, and [base×n] numerals, with [C/M Num]. This paper follows up on the explanation of the base-C/M harmonization based on the multiplicative theory of classifiers and verifies it empirically within six language groups in the world’s foremost hotbed of classifier languages: Sinitic, Miao-Yao, Austro-Asiatic, Tai-Kadai, Tibeto-Burman, and Indo-Aryan. Our survey further reveals two interesting facts: base-initial ([base×n]) and C/M-initial ([C/M Num]) orders exist only in Tibeto-Burman (TB) within our dataset. Moreover, the few scarce violations to the base-C/M harmonization are also all in TB and are mostly languages having maintained their original base-initial numerals but borrowed from their base-final and C/M-final neighbors. We thus offer an explanation based on Proto-TB’s base-initial numerals and language contact with neighboring base-final, C/M-final languages.