Number and plural semantics: Empirical evidence from Marori

Wayan Arka, Mary Dalrymple

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    This paper presents new empirical evidence from Marori (a Papuan language of Southern New Guinea) for the semantics of number in a complex number system. Marori has a basic three-way number system, singular/dual/plural. Marori is notable for showing distributed number exponence and constructed number strategies, in sharp contrast with familiar two-way, morphologically simpler number systems in languages such as English. Unlike in English, the reference of plurals in Marori in many contexts is to a group of three or more individuals. While Marori's number system is typologically quite different from English, it shows an intriguing similarity in that in certain contexts, plural/nonsingular forms allow an inclusive reading (i.e. reference to any number of individuals, including one). The paper also presents evidence that all number types, including constructed dual, can be used for generic reference. The paper concludes with remarks on the theoretical significance of our findings.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)89-106
    JournalNUSA: Linguistic studies of languages in and around Indonesia
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


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