Numeral Classifier and Plurality: The Puzzle of Quantification in Magahi


  • Chandan Kumar Christ University


The paper investigates the semantic and syntactic account of the interaction between the classifier and plurality in Magahi. We show that Magahi, a modern Indo-Aryan language, is a classifier language similar to classifier languages like Chinese, Japanese, etc., but unique in its approach to the concept of quantification. Magahi offers two kinds of plurals and a non-optional classifier which is not pervasive in its distribution for quantification. The semantics of the numeral classifier ranges over its distribution but has a general abstracted interpretation of atomization/individualization. Further, the paper revisits the complementarity between regular plural and classifier. This conceptual complementarity though seems robust presents scope to see if either of the system (plurality and classifier) presents vagueness to be investigated. It is proposed that plurality seeks different kinds of configuration from the noun compared to numerals. This approach explains the co-occurrence of regular plurality with a numeral classifier. The paper approaches the distribution of classifiers in count and mass nouns from a constraint-based account and explains the phonological, morpho-syntactic and semantic reasonings.