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Title: The Semantics of Number in Malay Noun Phrases
Authors: Carson, Jana Cicile
Keywords: Austronesian Languages
Malayo-Polynesian Languages
Issue Date: 2000
Publisher: University of Calgary
Abstract: Many authors describe Malay as a language which treats all nouns as mass nouns. Languages like English make a distinction between count nouns such as cow and mass nouns such as water. In Malay all nouns are treated alike. All Malay nouns require classifiers when a numeral is present, and can be reduplicated to mark plurality In Malay the root noun may be used to refer to one or more than one entity, and so is neutral with respect to number. This is different fkom English count nouns, where the root noun is typically used to refer to only one entity- In this thesis, Link's (1983) semantic theory of plurality and Krifka's (1 989, 199 1, 1995) analysis of classifiers are extended to Malay. It is argued that in Malay the root noun denotes a set of entities which includes atomic entities as well as sums, or groups of entities. The reduplicated noun denotes a set which includes only sums of entities but not atoms. Sortd classifiers denote fhctions which map entities onto the number of atoms they contain. A compositional analysis of Malay noun phrases is developed, and the pragmatic use of root versus reduplicated nouns is investigated.
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