Classifying Bengali as Southeast Asian: An Analysis of Definiteness and Quantificational Approximateness in the DP

Dustin Alfonso Chacón


Bengali/Bangla is unusual among South Asian languages in that it uses numerical classifiers. In this paper, Ipropose a new analysis of the DP structure in Bengali motivated by data previously unaccounted for, as wellas typological concerns. Specifically, I propose that Bengali has DP-internal NP movement to Spec, DP tomark definiteness, that the numeral and classifier form separate heads in the syntax, and that there is nounto classifier movement when there is no overt classifier. I propose a feature for each of these phenomena, andattempt to explain the ungrammatical examples using principled reasons derived from the structure. Also, I givean analysis for the quantificationally approximate construction, in which the numeral and classifier appear onopposite sides of one another. I claim that the model presented in this paper can account for these constructions,and that the differences found between “classifier-compatible” nouns and “classifier-less” nouns with regard tothe quantificationally approximate structures follows naturally from my analysis.

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