The use of an obligatory numeral classifier (C) on N in general does not co-occur with mandatory plural marking (PM) (Greenberg 1990, Sanches and Slobin 1973). Borer (2005) and Her (2012a) take this generalization further and see Cs and PMs as the same category. This unification implies that C/PM are mutually exclusive on N. In this paper, we first provide a mathematical foundation for this unification, i.e., C/PM both function as a multiplicand with the precise value of 1 (Her 2012a), and then explore empirically to what extent C/PM’s complimentary distribution is borne out. We obtain from the WALS database a total of 22 languages with both Cs and PMs, including Mandarin, Japanese, and Vietnamese. Our survey finds C/PM co-occurring on N in 11 languages. We then set out to formally account for the unification of C/PM and explain its exceptions, taking Mandarin as an example, with a double-headed classifier construction. This study thus adds merit to the unification of C/PM and concludes with its impliction on a universal lexical count/mass distinction.
27th Pacific Asia Conference on Language, Information, and Computation, National Chengchi University, pp.22-24