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Diversity in Sinitic Languages$
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Hilary M. Chappell

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723790

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723790.001.0001

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On the origin of special numerals for ‘one’ in southeastern China: [kɛi213] in the northwestern Min dialect of Shaowu

On the origin of special numerals for ‘one’ in southeastern China: [kɛi213] in the northwestern Min dialect of Shaowu

Chapter:
(p.190) 8 On the origin of special numerals for ‘one’ in southeastern China: [kɛi213] in the northwestern Min dialect of Shaowu
Source:
Diversity in Sinitic Languages
Author(s):

Sing Sing Ngai

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723790.003.0008

The morpheme [kɛi213] 个‎ in the Shaowu dialect functions as a general classifier and also in other grammaticalized roles, such as an attributive marker, akin to its counterparts in other Sinitic languages. This multifunctional morpheme performs another function that is found uniquely in this confined region centred on northwestern Fujian: it can also act as the numeral ‘one’. To explain this singular usage, this chapter first presents various constructions in which [kɛi213] 个‎assumes the numeral role, then the chapter tries to give an account of its origin. The chapter contends that [kɛi213] 个‎ has undergone the process of lexical conversion from an adjectival source, leading to the rise of the singular numeral role, among others. The argument will be supported by the typological distribution of similar phenomena which have occurred in this region, as well as data from historical texts from 500 BC onwards.

Keywords:   language contact, Shaowu dialect, Min dialect, basic numeral, classifier, diachronic semantics, numeral one

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