Chinese Names for Integers
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Abstract Chinese names for integers have always used the digits  through  and a series of decimal pivots starting with , ,  and . 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  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.
KeywordsNumber names Numerals Linguistic numeration Quantification Measure words Classifiers Language planning
- 3OBJ: 3SG:
third person singular pronoun
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
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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