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Linguistic Typology

Founded by Plank, Frans

Editor-in-Chief: Koptjevskaja-Tamm, Maria

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Volume 10, Issue 2


Pluralization in sign and in speech: A cross-modal typological study

Roland Pfau / Markus Steinbach
Published Online: 2006-11-07 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LINGTY.2006.006


Spoken languages employ various strategies to mark the plural of nouns, the most important ones being affixation, reduplication, and zero marking; within one language, different strategies and/or different morphological markers may be used, depending on lexical, phonological, or morphological properties of the base noun. In this article we present the first cross-modal typological study of noun pluralization. A comparison of the patterns found in sign languages, in particular German Sign Language (DGS), to those described for spoken languages will show that DGS patterns with spoken languages in that (i) different plural marking strategies are available, (ii) within one strategy (reduplication) there are different types of realization, and (iii) the choice of strategy and of type crucially depend on phonological properties of the base noun, in particular, on the noun's location and movement features. The description of basic plural patterns is supplemented by a typological sketch of the use of classifiers in plural constructions and by an investigation of how and where plural is realized within the noun phrase.

Keywords: agreement; allomorphy; German Sign Language; inflection; number; numeral classifier; plural; reduplication; sign language

About the article

1Correspondence addresses: (Pfau) Department of General Linguistics, Universiteit van Amsterdam, Spuistraat 210, 1012 VT Amsterdam, The Netherlands

2Correspondence addresses: (Steinbach) Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Deutsches Institut, 55099 Mainz, Germany

Received: 2005-04-04

Revised: 2006-02-07

Published Online: 2006-11-07

Published in Print: 2006-10-01

Citation Information: Linguistic Typology, Volume 10, Issue 2, Pages 135–182, ISSN (Online) 1613-415X, ISSN (Print) 1430-0532, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/LINGTY.2006.006.

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