Chinese classification categories revisited

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    Allan's (1977) paper on classifiers has been widely cited since its publication and has been a work of reference for researchers on classifiers since then. His main argument was that, independently from the number of measure words a language had, seven classification categories common to all classifying languages could be identified. Namely, material, shape, consistency, size, location, arrangement and quanta. However, nobody has implemented his findings systematically to any particular language. Following his catalogue of seven universal categories and their subcategories, in this paper we attempt to conduct a descriptive study to identify which of Allan's universal classifying categories are actually relevant to the Chinese classifying system. In doing so, we will also review the main contributions made by other authors to the subject.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)106-120
    JournalJournal of Chinese Linguistics
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


    • Chinese classifiers
    • Cognitive category
    • Measure words
    • Universal categories


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