PLM2009 Workshop session: Noun classification

All languages employ some means of classifying lexico-grammatical concepts such as noun classes, classifiers, quantifiers and grammatical number. These systems of classification can take diverse and varied morphosyntactic forms and have relative degrees of lexicalization and grammaticalization.

Noun classification systems, including noun classes and classifiers, shape many aspects of language structure: in particular, they help expand the lexicon of a language and contribute to the structuring of discourse by way of reference tracking and management. Their role in lexical and grammatical structure is demonstrated by the correlates with human cognition, perception as well as social and cultural patterns.

In this workshop we will focus on the following issues concerning noun classification: a) the role of assignment criteria in noun class languages and their interdependence; b) the semantic and pragmatic functions of noun classification and their implications for lexical and grammatical structure; c) the acquisition of noun class and classifier systems; and finally, d) the interface between noun classification and number, as evidenced by the common expression of noun class and gender, and the complementary relationship between the processes of unitization and pluralization. The data will be drawn from a wide range of genetically and typologically different language families such as Bantu, Indo-European, Semitic, Sino-Tibetan, Japanese and Iroquoian.

Sample Bibliography

  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2000. Classifiers: A typology of noun categorization devices. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2004. “Nominal classification: Towards a comprehensive typology”, Sprachtypologie und Universalienforschung 57: 105-116.
  • Contini-Morava, Ellen and Yishai Tobin (eds.). 2000. Between grammar and lexicon. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
  • Senft, Gunter (ed.). 2000. Systems of nominal classification. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Unterbeck, Barbara and Matti Rissanen (eds.). 2000. Gender in grammar and cognition. (Part 1. Approaches to gender. Part 2. Manifestations of gender.) Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Session organisers

  • Marcin Kilarski (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań), email: kilarski <at>
  • Yishai Tobin (Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Be'er Sheva), email: yishai <at>

(In the email addresses above, replace "<at>" with "@".)

Abstract submission procedure

Please follow the general submission guidelines but send your abstract directly to the session organisers.