The typology of singulatives: Definition, distribution and diachrony


Singulatives are noun forms where a morphological marker is added to denote one (unit), e.g. Welsh moch-yn a pig (from moch pigs). This is the opposite of the more familiar pattern where a marker is added to denote many, e.g. singular dog vs. plural dogs. Singulatives are found in many language families across the world, yet they have never been subject to a comprehensive typological study. This project will add significantly to our understanding of the morphology of grammatical number and possible number systems, that is, how languages denote 'one' and 'many'. I'm building a database of singulatives in the world's languages and use it to explore three main themes: the definition, distribution and diachrony of singulatives. The first will result in a cross-linguistically informed definition of singulatives, and the second in an overview of their distribution in different language families and different number systems. Finally, I will explore how singulatives first arise in a language and whether there are common pathways of development.
Effective start/end date01/09/201831/08/2020


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