Quantification in Nen
This article examines quantification in Nen, a Papuan language of the Yam family (aka Morehead-Maro family) from Southern New Guinea. Nen counts some 400 speakers, most living in the single village of Bimadbn. Typologically, Nen is an SOV language with ergative case-marking, agreement on the verb for up to two arguments, and a split in verbal agreement patterns between active and stative predicates.
With regard to quantification, the most interesting features of Nen are its complex system for composing number by integrating partial or disjoint number specifications (e.g. ‘non-dual, i.e. singular or more than two’) from a number of morphological sites. For many values this results in non-monotonic processes of composition. Composition from a number of sites is also a feature of temporal semantics, e.g. bidirectional time adverbs (yesterday/tomorrow) whose exact reference is selected by the verbal semantics. Numerals exhibit an unusual senary system, including monomorphemic roots for powers of six up to 65; grammatical number is also unusual, with several lines of evidence suggesting that the dual is the unmarked number with regard to verbal morphology. The language has rich systems of indefinite and negative pronouns and distributive numerals, and an entrenched count vs mass distinction, interestingly linked to a lack of general quantificational interrogatives for mass expressions. The existence of double agreement on the verb eliminates many classic scope ambiguities with regard to universal and existential quantifiers. Finally, an unusual conflation of ‘all’ and ‘most’ in the main relevant D-quantifier is problematic for standard accounts of quantity implicature.
I would like to thank Ed Keenan and Denis Paperno for their kind invitation to submit a chapter to this volume, Denis Paperno and an anonymous referee for their comments on an earlier draft of this chapter, Jeff Siegel, Christian Döhler and Wayan Arka for discussions of how quantification works in other languages of southern New Guinea, Susan Ford for assistance with preparing the manuscript, and the following organisations for financial support of my work on Nen: the Australian Research Council (Grants: Languages of Southern New Guinea and The Wellsprings of Linguistic Diversity), the Volkswagen Foundation (DoBES project ‘Nen and Tonda’), the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (Anneliese Maier Forschungspreis), the Australian National University (Professorial Setup Grant) and the ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language (CoEDL). Most importantly, I think the entire population of Bimadbn village for their hospitality and friendship, and especially Jimmy Nébni, Michael Binzawa, Yosang Amto and Goe Dibod for their finely attuned discussions of how quantification works in Nen.
- Bach, E., Jelinek, E., Kratzer, A., & Partee, B. (1995). Quantification in natural languages. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
- Carrroll, M. (in prep). A grammar of Ngkolmpu. PhD Dissertation, Australian National University.Google Scholar
- Döhler, C. (2016). A grammar of Komnzo. PhD Dissertation, Australian National University.Google Scholar
- Evans, N. (1995). A-quantifiers and scope in Mayali. In E. Bach, E. Jelinek, A. Kratzer, & B. H. Partee (Eds.), Quantification in natural language (pp. 207–270). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
- Evans, N. (2003). Bininj Gun-wok: A Pan-dialectal grammar of Mayali, Kunwinjku and Kune. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.Google Scholar
- Evans, N. (2012). Even more diverse than we thought: The multiplicity of Trans-Fly languages. In N. Evans, & M. Klamer (Eds.), Melanesian languages on the edge of Asia: Challenges for the 21st century.(Language documentation and conservation special publication No. 5, pp. 109–149). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press http://nflrc.hawaii.edu/ldc/?p=258
- Evans, N. (2015a). Inflection in Nen. In B. Matthew (Ed.), The Oxford handbook of inflection (pp. 543–575). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Evans, N. (2015b). Chapter 26. Valency in Nen. In A. Malchukov, M. Haspelmath, B. Comrie, & I. Hartmann (Eds.), Valency classes: A comparative handbook (pp. 1069–1116). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Evans, N. (Forthcoming). Waiting for the word: Morphome, paradigm, and delayed semantic interpretation of number on the Nen verb. Special Thematic Issue of Australian Journal of Linguistics on Australian Morphologies Beyond the Morpheme. Google Scholar
- Evans, N., & Miller, J. C. (2016). Nen. Journal of the International Phonetic Association, 1–19.Google Scholar
- Evans, N., Arka, W., Carroll, M., Choi, H., Döhler, C., Gast, V., Kashima, E., Mittag, E., Quinn, K., Schokkin, D., Siegel, J., Tama, P., & Van Tongeren, C. (Forthcoming). The languages of Southern New Guinea. In B. Palmer (Ed.), The languages and linguistics of New Guinea: A comprehensive guide. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Haspelmath, M. (1997). Indefinite pronouns. Oxford: Clarendon.Google Scholar
- Haspelmath, M. (2013a). Indefinite pronouns. In M. S. Dryer, & M. Haspelmath (Eds.), The world atlas of language structures online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. http://wals.info/chapter/46. Accessed 25 Aug 2015.
- Haspelmath, M. (2013b). Negative indefinite pronouns and predicate negation. In M. S. Dryer, & M. Haspelmath (Eds.), The world atlas of language structures online. Leipzig: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. http://wals.info/chapter/115. Accessed 25 Aug 2015.
- Karcevski, S. (1969). Introduction à l’étude de l’interjection. In R. Godel (Ed.), A Geneva school reader (pp. 196–212). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Keenan, E. L. (this volume). The Q-book questionnaire.Google Scholar
- Matthewson, L. (Ed.). (2008). Quantification: A cross-linguistic perspective (North Holland linguistic series, Vol. 64). Bingley: Emerald Books Publishing.Google Scholar
- Nordlinger, R. (1998). Constructive case. Evidence from Australian languages. Stanford: CSLI Publications.Google Scholar
- Nordlinger, R. (2014). Constituency and grammatical relations in Australian languages. In H. Koch & R. Nordlinger (Eds.), The languages and linguistics of Australia. A comprehensive guide (pp. 215–262). Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Partee, B. (1995). Quantificational structures and compositionality. In E. Bach, E. Jelinek, A. Kratzer, & B. H. Partee (Eds.), Quantification in natural language (pp. 541–560). Dordrecht: Kluwer.Google Scholar
- Siegel, J. (2014). The morphology of tense and aspect in Nama, a Papuan language of southern New Guinea. Open Linguistics 1, 211–231. http://www.degruyter.com/view/j/opli
- Wierzbicka, A. (1980). Lingua mentalis. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar