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Linguistic Inquiry

Winter 2011, Vol. 42, No. 1, Pages 125-130
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00030)
© 2011 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Classifiers Are Functional
Article PDF (49.73 KB)

Wu and Bodomo (2009) dispute Cheng and Sybesma's (1999, 2005) analysis of Chinese numeral classifiers as being able to function as definite articles. While I agree with Wu and Bodomo's overall conclusion, here I focus on parts of their argument that do not stand up to scrutiny and distract from their main point. In particular, I argue that Wu and Bodomo's conclusion that numeral classifiers are lexical items is incorrect. Also, I question their apparent conclusion that the availability of numeral classifiers in a language indicates that that language's nouns are inherently mass.