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Processing Classifiers and the Count-Mass Distinction

(4,790 words)

Author(s): Peggy LI
This article reviews psycholinguistic studies on classifiers that have provided insights into human categorization behavior, human conceptual structures, and cross-linguistic universals and variation in language processing. Following "Classifiers, Nominal", the term “classifier” will refer to sortal classifiers (also known as individual or “count” classifiers in the literature). In some cases, sortal classifiers are contrasted with mensural classifiers (also known as measure words, “mass” classifiers, or massifiers). 1. Language as a Window to our Cognitive Structure 1…
Date: 2017-03-02

Acquisition of Classifiers and the Count-Mass Distinction, L1 (Mandarin)

(2,963 words)

Author(s): Peggy LI | Pierina CHEUNG
In numerical classifier languages, such as Mandarin, classifiers are morphemes that occur next to numerals and “classify” nouns on some semantic basis (Classifiers). For example, ‘three cats’ in Mandarin requires the classifier zhī 隻, which is typically used with nouns for animals ( sān zhī māo 三隻貓 ‘three clf cat’). Thus, nominal syntax differs between classifier languages and “count-mass” languages such as English. In this review, we first focus on how children learning classifier languages inform us about the development of the count-mass …
Date: 2017-03-02