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Chinese Names for Integers

  • Rémi AnicotteEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Abstract Chinese names for integers have always used the digits [1] through [9] and a series of decimal pivots starting with [10], [102], [103] and [104]. Changes occurred in the way the compounds [digit] [pivot] were concatenated, with the conjunction yòu until the third century BCE, then with the term líng, which emerged around the twelfth century CE. The behavior of the morpheme [1] with pivots also evolved. Finally, in Contemporary Chinese, there is a choice between two morphemes for the digit 2 yielding legitimate alternative numerals; and there is the possibility to form elliptic number names which are not meant to be incorporated before classifiers. Some changes in the features of Chinese linguistic numeration were likely the result of language planning; they nevertheless hint at a tension between a tendency to maintain the morphosyntax of number names within the framework of the syntax of quantification versus simplification and shorter numerals.

Keywords

Number names Numerals Linguistic numeration Quantification Measure words Classifiers Language planning 

Abbreviations

CLF:

classifier

MW:

measure word

Num:

numeral

PART:

particle

PL:

plural

3OBJ: 3SG:

third person singular pronoun

A(B):

the character A is a rendition of the original character encountered in the Chinese corpus, the character B in parenthesis is a modern form for what A is understood to mean

[n] (with a number n written in a given language Arabic digits):

the mono-morphemic expression of the number n in a given language

Notes

Acknowledgments

For their invaluable help in selecting relevant corpus and/or interpreting available data, I thank Karine Chemla (SPHERE), Redouane Djamouri (CRLAO), Christoph Harbsmeier (University of Oslo), Laurent Sagart (CRLAO), Sylviane Schwer (Paris 13 University), Xu Dan (INaLCO, IUF) and Zhang Xiancheng (Southwest University, Chongqing). Conclusions and shortcomings are mine.

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Corpora and Dictionaries

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CRLAOLycée français de PékinBeijingChina

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