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Classifiers

Keith Allan
Language
Vol. 53, No. 2 (Jun., 1977), pp. 285-311
DOI: 10.2307/413103
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/413103
Page Count: 27
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Classifiers
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Abstract

The investigation of data from many languages has the following results: (a) the characteristics of classifier languages are distinguished, and four types are identified; (b) defining criteria are postulated for classifiers, and it is discovered that every classifier is composed of one or more out of seven categories of classification. It is argued that classifiers typically index some perceived characteristic of the phenomenon to which the classification refers, and so the recurrence of similar noun classes in unrelated and geographically separated classifier languages shows that diverse language communities categorize perceived phenomena in similar ways.

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