Journal of East Asian Linguistics

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 43–59

Numeral classifiers in Mandarin Chinese

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s10831-006-9006-9

Cite this article as:
Zhang, H. J East Asian Linguist (2007) 16: 43. doi:10.1007/s10831-006-9006-9


This article uses a multilevel approach to study the Chinese numeral classifiers. It argues that although shape categories constitute a major cognitive base for numeral classification, lexical taxonomy, linguistic convention, and stylistic creativity also play a role in determining the use of Chinese classifiers. It cautions that in general the relationship between noun and classifier is explicable from the semantic/cognitive stance, but the relationship is not always transparent and consistent. At times the choice of a classifier can be entirely arbitrary and subject to linguistic innovation.

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of East Asian StudiesColby CollegeWatervilleUSA

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