A Corpus-Based Study of the Function and Structure of Numeral Classifier Constructions in S'gaw Karen

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Olson, Collin
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Middle Tennessee State University
This thesis examines the numeral classifier system in S'gaw Karen, a language in the Tibeto-Burman subfamily. Numeral classifiers are an areal feature of Sino-Tibetan languages. This thesis contributes to our understanding of numeral classifier systems in this language family by examining both the function of numeral classifiers in S'gaw Karen and the structure of noun phrases when numeral classifiers are present. The data for this project include a phonetically transcribed corpus of four stories created in consultation with three native speakers from Eastern Burma and targeted elicitations. A detailed phonological analysis of the S'gaw Karen variety spoken by the consultants is included. In S'gaw Karen, numeral classifiers individuate and enumerate the noun, specify salient semantic features of the noun, and are used as anaphoric devices. The syntactic structure of noun phrases involving numerals and classifiers are examined in several different NP contexts, including those with modifiers and determiners.
Karenic, Numeral Classifiers, S'gaw Karen, Tibeto-Burman