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Linguistic Typology

Ed. by Plank, Frans / Cysouw, Michael

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The typology of Pamean number systems and the limits of Mesoamerica as a linguistic area

*Correspondence address:Department of Linguistics, University of California at Berkeley, 1203 Dwinelle Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-2650, U.S.A.

Citation Information: Linguistic Typology. Volume 10, Issue 1, Pages 41–60, ISSN (Online) 1613-415X, ISSN (Print) 1430-0532, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LINGTY.2006.002, October 2006

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Pamean languages have been considered to be outside of the Mesoamerican linguistic area. However, the number systems of Pamean show typical Mesoamerican structures: order of constituents Multiplier-Base-Addend, and systems with bases 10 and 20. Pamean languages have a typologically unusual, but consistent base 8. The present study presents a formal characterization of Pamean number systems. The distribution and peculiarities of Pamean number systems are explained as a result of their location at the border of a major linguistic area. Northern Pame has 8 as the only productive base, whereas Central Pame and Southern Pame show a greater influence of Mesoamerican traits.

Keywords: cardinal numerals; linguistic area; Mesoamerica; number systems; numeral; Pamean

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