The Syntax and Semantics of Cardinal-Containing Expressions
422 pp., 6 x 9 in, 2 b&w illus.
- Published: December 11, 2018
- Published: December 25, 2018
- Published: November 16, 2018
An argument that complex cardinals are not extra-linguistic but built using standard syntax and standard principles of semantic composition.
In Cardinals, Tania Ionin and Ora Matushansky offer a semantic and syntactic analysis of nominal expressions containing complex cardinals (for example, two hundred and thirty-five books). They show that complex cardinals are not an extra-linguistic phenomenon (as is often assumed) but built using standard syntax and standard principles of semantic composition. Complex cardinals can tell us as much about syntactic structure and semantic composition as other linguistic expressions.
Ionin and Matushansky show that their analysis accounts for the internal composition of cardinal-containing constructions cross-linguistically, providing examples from more than fifteen languages. They demonstrate that their proposal is compatible with a variety of related phenomena, including modified numerals, measure nouns, and fractions. Ionin and Matushansky show that a semantic or syntactic account that captures the behavior of a simplex cardinal (such as five) does not automatically transfer to a complex cardinal (such as five thousand and forty-six) and propose a compositional analysis of complex cardinals. They consider the lexical categories of simplex cardinals and their role in the construction of complex cardinals; examine in detail the numeral systems of selected languages, including Slavic and Semitic languages; discuss linguistic constructions that contain cardinals; address extra-linguistic conventions on the construction of complex cardinals; and, drawing on data from Modern Hebrew, Basque, Russian, and Dutch, show that modified numerals and partitives are compatible with their analysis.
This book is a major breakthrough in our understanding of numerals. The authors deliver an analysis of their byzantine data with gusto, and the quality of their writing is equal to their analytical skills: the material is presented clearly, engagingly, and convincingly. A must-read for anyone who wants to see syntax and semantics done right.
Maria Polinsky, Professor of Linguistics, University of Maryland; author of Deconstructing Ergativity
Using complex cardinals as a window into the phenomenon, Ionin and Matushansky expand their earlier groundbreaking work empirically and theoretically. Written in an accessible manner, the analysis of numeral constructions is developed with rigor and insight. Cardinals will engage the novice and the expert alike—essential reading for anyone interested in the number systems of natural language.
Veneeta Dayal, Distinguished Professor of Linguistics, Rutgers University; author of Locality in Wh Quantification and Questions
Ionin and Matushansky provide a comprehensive and authoritative survey of cross- and intra-linguistic variation in the morpho-syntax of cardinal numerals, within the framework of a unifying theoretical account. The range of languages discussed is almost encyclopedic, but the discussion of individual languages is never superficial. Their syntactic theory of cardinal numerals has many novel features, for which they provide compelling evidence. This book is certain to become a standard reference source in this area.
Tim Stowell, Professor of Linguistics, UCLA