CARDINAL PREDICATION AND THE TYPOLOGY OF FORMOSAN LANGUAGES
Henry Yungli Chang / Institute of Linguistics, Academia Sinica
In English and Chinese, cardinal numerals such as ‘two’ can occur either as a modifier or as a predicate, with the latter use less common. In contrast, in Formosan languages, cardinal numerals typically serve as a predicate, not as a modifier. This surprising predicative requirement carries over to the quantity words related to cardinal numerals, including adjectives of quantity, interrogative quantity words, and negative quantity words. The goals of this article are two folded. On the one hand, I give a comprehensive description of this less studied phenomenon, covering how this is attested and how it is not attested across Formosan languages. On the other hand, based on the well-attested strong-weak nominal distinction (Milsark 1977; Barwise and Cooper 1981; Heim 1987; Partee 1988, among many others), I classify those which typically function as a predicate in Formosan languages as weak quantifiers and identify Formosan languages as a language type of Weak Quantifier as Predicate Language (WQAPL), as opposed to English and Chinese. The findings from this study are expected to shed new lights on linguistic typology and theory of quantifiers/determiners.