LSA 223: Nominal classification

Frank Seifart | session 2 | TuTh 10:30 – 12:15, 370 Dwinelle Hall

Many languages have morphosyntactic systems that impose a classification on their nominal lexicon. Such systems include highly grammaticalized two- or three-way gender systems, as well as complex numeral classifier systems. This course will deal with the common features and typological variation of nominal classification systems from languages around the world, focusing on the following issues: (1) How can nominal classification systems be typologized according to the morphosyntactic locus of the classifying element, distinguishing, e.g., noun classifiers, verb classifiers, deictic classifiers, etc., and what follows from this typology? (2) What are the semantic principles underlying noun class assignment? (3) How does nominal classification function in discourse, e.g., for reference tracking? (4) How and why is nominal classification often diffused across languages?

Reading: Selected materials available online.

Prerequisites: Basic knowledge in morphology and syntax; an interest in typologically diverse language structures.

Areas of linguistics: Syntax, semantics, and morphology

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