33 votes

Why do most languages have a different form for singular vs plural nouns?

First, though you probably already know this, not all languages have different forms for singular and plural nouns. Some don't mark number at all, while others have more fine-grained distinctions, ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
28 votes

Is English unusual in having no second person plural form?

English marks plurality in first and third person pronouns (I vs. we, he/she/it vs. they), but not in the second person (you). (The singular thou did exist in English in the past, but is now ...
b a's user avatar
  • 2,775
11 votes

Is English unusual in having no second person plural form?

Although largely archaic, in some locations (some parts of Northern England/Cornwall/Ireland, among others) the word "ye" is still used as second-person-plural. It can also be found in some older ...
Chronocidal's user avatar
11 votes

Does Biblical Hebrew have a plural of majesty?

Hebrew has a plural of excellence or majesty for nouns, but not a royal we for pronouns. Some people are confused about this because the terms are not kept separated correctly. Based on what you write,...
Keelan's user avatar
  • 4,214
9 votes
Accepted

Why is the proto-italic reconstruction of "corpora" "*korpezā"?

The e in the oblique stem seems to go back to Proto-Indo-European: compare the Germanic cognate, nom sg *hrefaz, nom pl *hrifizō. Even if the PIt form had been **korpozā, -e- would be the expected ...
Draconis's user avatar
  • 66.2k
8 votes
Accepted

Are there any languages with different plural forms for different numbers?

Indeed! The most common form of this involves having a dual number, used for exactly two things, and a plural number, used for any more than that. You'll find this in older Indo-European languages ...
Draconis's user avatar
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8 votes

Why is the word "God" plural in some languages?

Lots of confusion here. Hebrew Elohim is morphologically plural but syntactically singular: it governs a verb in the 3rd person singular. Adonai is likewise syntactically singular. Dios is from ...
fdb's user avatar
  • 24.2k
8 votes
Accepted

Plural form as respect form - based on what?

Wikipedia has a good summary of the T-V distinction & the various strategies used across different languages. The singular-plural distinction is just one strategy, and not the most common one. ...
Mark Beadles's user avatar
  • 6,860
6 votes

Why do most languages have a different form for singular vs plural nouns?

It is worth mentioning the fact that there seems to be some correlation between the numbers which languages may mark, and the numbers which human brains can treat differently. We can subitise small ...
Omar and Lorraine's user avatar
6 votes

What is the difference between plurality and gender?

In general, gender is an inherent property of a lexeme, while number is something that can easily be changed. For example, Latin mensae "tables (plural)" is a perfectly normal inflection of ...
Draconis's user avatar
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6 votes
Accepted

How common is the "elliptical dual" (or plural) cross-linguistically?

Since there are more languages with dedicated plural forms than there are with dedicated dual forms, this phenomenon is probably more common with plurals. I'm more familiar with constructions like ...
brass tacks's user avatar
  • 18.1k
6 votes

Is English unusual in having no second person plural form?

According to The Paradigmatic Structure of Person Marking by Michael Cysouw, the absence of the 2PL form in English pronoun despite having 3PL form is extremely unusual. The only language that has the ...
Xwtek's user avatar
  • 221
2 votes

Numeral-noun number agreement - how popular it is

This feature or lack thereof is common enough across language families. Besides Hungarian, Turkish and Georgian, it also occurs in Armenian, Persian and apparently Hindi, which are of course Indo-...
Adam Bittlingmayer's user avatar
2 votes

English "fruit" vs Italian "frutta" plural number

As a native Spanish speaker I might use fruta or frutas according to the occasion. The difference might be small enough that I might doubt which one is correct, though. I suspect that nouns shifting ...
pablodf76's user avatar
  • 1,235
2 votes

Are there any languages with different plural forms for different numbers?

According to the "Grammatical number" Wikipedia article, there are languages with dual and trial numbers, as well as forms that contrast small numbers with big numbers. The article contains a... ...
LjL's user avatar
  • 1,849
2 votes

Why isn't a countable noun required to have a determiner when used in the plural?

No. It is just the rule for English, other languages differ, e.g., Russian and Chinese don't have articles at all (neither definite nor indefinite ones).
Sir Cornflakes's user avatar
1 vote

What is the difference between plurality and gender?

Gender (or noun class) and Number (which includes singular, dual, paucal, and plural) are two of the possible properties of Entities, the things that Nouns refer to. Other common noun categories ...
jlawler's user avatar
  • 10k
1 vote

What is the difference between plurality and gender?

Plural is a grammaticalized semantic concept – more than one. It might be signaled by an affix or other morphological process, or by adding a separate grammatical word indicating "plural". ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k
1 vote

Is there empirical support for this implicational universal: "if a language has no plural morphology, it has no tense marking"?

In particular, I need to know whether it's true when one accounts for strictly pronominal plurality and for 'impure' tense markers such as Chinese aspect particle 了. I think you just answered your ...
madprogramer's user avatar
1 vote

Plural form as respect form - based on what?

Concerning the continental european situation: Addressing an officer in the polite plural can be understood as addressing the office, implying that the actions of the officer are expected to be in ...
vectory's user avatar
  • 1,416
1 vote

Why isn't a countable noun required to have a determiner when used in the plural?

The English indefinite article comes from the word for "one" (Old English ān), which, because of its semantics, is somewhat resistant to pluralization. (This resistance is not perfect, however, and ...
user8017's user avatar
  • 1,387
1 vote

Are there any languages with different plural forms for different numbers?

This may be a partial answer because I don't remember details, sorry for that. A Russian noun can have up to 4 numeral endings (including the singular forms). The first is its "original form" and is ...
iBug's user avatar
  • 417
1 vote

English "fruit" vs Italian "frutta" plural number

I don't know enough Spanish to comment on why Spanish decided not to go this route, but Italian usage is certainly derived with Latin usage, and it has no relation to English uncountable nouns What ...
Denis Nardin's user avatar
1 vote

Numeral-noun number agreement - how popular it is

In most Berber languages (In Riffian, a numeral does not agree with a noun), agreement for numerals concerns the number and the gender. The noun agrees in number with the numeral and, inversely, the ...
amegnunsen's user avatar
  • 1,525
1 vote

When do English speakers add /əs/ in the end of a word ending in /əs/?

The question is framed the wrong way: it should be, when do they~we not add /z/? First, there are many /z/'s in English -- plural, possessive, reductions of auxiliaries has, was, is. Only the ...
user6726's user avatar
  • 83.1k

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