BARE-CLASSIFIER CONSTRUCTIONS IN XIANG (SINITIC): FROM TYPOLOGY TO FORMALIZATION
Robert Marcelo Sevilla / The University of Hong Kong
The Sinitic ‘bare-classifier’ construction, where a noun follows a classifier without an accompanying numeral or demonstrative, demonstrates a complex interplay of syntax and semantics; associated with reference marking, the construction displays seemingly arbitrary restrictions on where it can occur and with what interpretation. This study introduces the variation of bare-classifier constructions among Xiang dialects, developing a typology of Xiang classifier constructions (drawing from typological work in Wang 2015) and formalizing this in a constraint-based OT framework. Syntactic and semantic constraints lead to the conclusion that bare-classifier constructions do not ‘mark’ reference, but rather restrict the possible referential interpretations available to the noun, while only directly marking individuation. The present paper explores bare-classifier constructions across four representative Xiang dialects: Changsha, Xiangxiang, Loudi, and Lianyuan, chosen as they represent a spectrum moving from full licensing of the bare-classifier construction in all contexts, to sole licensing of postverbal indefinites. Formalization of the observed variation following bidirectional OT syntax-semantics is shown to efficiently capture the typological trends observed.