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Encyclopedia > Measure word

Measure words, in linguistics, are words (or morphemes) that are used in combination with a numeral to indicate the count of nouns. Measure words often classify the noun they modify into some semantic class and consequently measure words are considered a kind of classifier, closely akin to grammatical gender. They are also known as counters. Broadly conceived, linguistics is the study of human language, and a linguist is someone who engages in this study. ... In Linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in a given language. ... A numeral is a symbol or group of symbols that represents a number. ... A noun, or noun substantive, is a word or phrase that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality. ... In linguistics, grammatical genders, also called noun classes, are classes of nouns reflected in the behavior of associated words; every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be very few which belong to several classes at once (Hockett 1958: 231). ...


Measure words are part of the grammar of many Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malay and Thai. The Malay language, also known locally as Bahasa Melayu, is an Austronesian language spoken by the Malay people who are native to the Malay peninsula, southern Thailand, Singapore, central eastern Sumatra, the Riau islands, and parts of the coast of Borneo. ...

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Measure words in English

In contrast to Asian languages and others, measure words are not grammatical in the case of Indo-European languages including English. English does have a distinction between mass nouns and count nouns, and employs a small number of fixed words that can be considered semantically-oriented counters. Consider the following: Proto-Indo-European Indo-European studies The Indo-European languages include some 443 (SIL estimate) languages and dialects spoken by about three billion people, including most of the major language families of Europe and western Asia, which belong to a single superfamily. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... In English, a mass noun is a type of noun that has a singular, but no plural form. ... A count noun is a noun which is itself counted, or the units which are used to count it. ...

  • five head of cattle (said by ranchers)
  • ten stem of roses (said by florists)
  • three pair of pants (or pairs)

Note that the preceding measure words are singular in form. If they were plural, the first two phrases would have different meanings. Ranching is the raising of cattle or sheep on rangeland, although one might also speak of ranching with regard to less common livestock such as elk, bison or emu. ... The word singular may refer to one of several concepts. ... Plural is a grammatical number, typically referring to more than one of the referent in the real world. ...


Most measure words in English are more accurately called units of measurement. They are normal count nouns, not grammatical particles. A measure word is the only way to quantify a mass noun: The word unit means any of several things: The natural or usual or smallest measure of something, of which there are multiples and of which there may be fractions. ... Measurement is the determination of the size or magnitude of something. ... In linguistics, the term particle is often employed as a useful catch-all lacking a strict definition. ...

  • three cups of coffee
  • four kernels of corn, three ears of corn, two bushels of corn
  • one litre of water

A water or a corn (taken in the sense of grain) do not make sense and are almost never heard. The litre (or liter in US) is a metric unit of volume. ...


With count nouns, however, measure words are unnecessary. A number alone can be used as an adjective to modify the noun to be counted:

  • four pencils
  • three horses

English also features some cases in which the number and the measure word are combined as a single word: for example, when counting

  • golfers: twosome, threesome, foursome...
  • musicians: solo, duet, trio, quartet...
  • wombmates: twins, triplets, quadruplets....

See also collective noun for a concept related to measure words that is found in English. This article is about the musical term solo; for other uses, see solo. ... A duet is a musical composition for two performers, most often used for a vocal or piano duet. ... Generally speaking, a trio or threesome is a group of three. ... A quartet is a group of four identical or similar objects, or or a grouping of four persons for a common purpose. ... Fraternal twin boys in the tub The term twin most notably refers to two individuals (or one of two individuals) who have shared the same uterus (womb) and are usually, but not necessarily, born on the same day. ... Collective nouns (also known as terms of venery or nouns of assemblage) in English are subject-specific words used to define a grouping of people, animals, objects or concepts. ...


Asian Languages

Languages such as Ainu, Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Thai use measure words as the standard way of indicating the count of the number of items, rather than, as in Indo-European languages, allowing numbers to count a noun directly. For the language spoken in Central Asia, see Aini language The Ainu language (アイヌ イタㇰ, Aynu Itak; Japanese: アイヌ語) is spoken by the Ainu ethnic group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido. ... A noun, or noun substantive, is a word or phrase that refers to a person, place, thing, event, substance or quality. ...


Chinese

Main article: Chinese measure words In the Chinese language, measure words or classifiers (量词 liàng cí) are used along with numerals to define the quantity of a given object or objects, or with this/that to identify specific objects. ...

In Mandarin, nouns are not conjugated for singular or plural numerus; a noun without a classifier can be translated as either singular or plural. Classifiers are used when enumerating a count noun: Mandarin  listen(Traditional: 北方話, Simplified: 北方话, Hanyu Pinyin: Běifānghuà, lit. ... In linguistics, number is a grammatical category that specifies the quantity of a noun or affects the form of a verb or other part of speech depending on the quantity of the noun to which it refers. ... A count noun is a noun which is itself counted, or the units which are used to count it. ...

Chinese Literal translation Grammatically correct translation
他有三雙筷子。
他有三双筷子。

Tā yǒu sān shuāng kuaìzi.

He have three pair chopstick. He has three pairs of chopsticks.
你有没有七張桌子?
你有没有七张桌子?

Nǐ yǒu méi yǒu qī zhāng zhuōzi?

You have-not-have seven [flat-thing classifier] table? Do you have seven tables?
一個人
一个人
yī ge rén
one [general classifier] person one person or a person

In contrast to the above examples from English, Chinese measure words are obligatory with enumeration of all count nouns; "yī rén" in modern Chinese is grammatically incorrect. The choice of a classifier for each noun is a matter of grammar, is somewhat arbitrary, and must be memorized by learners of Chinese. The classifier assigned to a noun often has an imagistic association with that object. Thus, zhāng has table as one of its meanings, and is used for large and thin objects. (Though uncommon, it is even possible to omit the noun if the choice of classifier makes the intended noun obvious.) Not all classifier words derive from nouns. For example, the word can also be a verb meaning to grab, and is the measure word for objects that have handles.


Japanese

Main article: Japanese measure words In Japanese counter words or counters (josūshi 助数詞) are used along with numbers to count objects and events. ...

In Japanese grammar, most nouns are effectively mass nouns, and measure words must be used with a number when counting them. The appropriate measure word is chosen based on the kind and shape of the noun, and combines with the numeral, sometimes adopting several different forms. This is similar to noun classes in many African languages, except that the classifiers are used only when counting. In linguistics, grammatical genders, also called noun classes, are classes of nouns reflected in the behavior of associated words; every noun must belong to one of the classes and there should be very few which belong to several classes at once. ...

Japanese English, literal English
鉛筆五本
enpitsu go-hon
pencil five cylindrical-things five pencils
犬三匹
inu san-biki
dog three animal-things three dogs
子供四人
kodomo yo-nin
child four people-things four children
鶏三羽
niwatori san-wa
chicken three bird-things three chickens
ヨット三艘
yotto san-sou
yacht three boat-things three yachts
車一台
kuruma ichi-dai
car one mechanical-thing one car
トランプ二枚
toranpu ni-mai
playing card two flat-things two cards

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Measure word - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (741 words)
Measure words, in linguistics, are words (or morphemes) that are used in combination with a numeral to indicate the count of nouns.
Measure words often classify the noun they modify into some semantic class and consequently measure words are considered numeral classifiers, closely akin to grammatical gender.
The appropriate measure word is chosen based on the kind and shape of the noun, and combines with the numeral, sometimes adopting several different forms.
Encyclopedia: Measure word (1452 words)
Measure words are part of the grammar of many Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Malay and Thai.
Main article: Chinese measure words In the Chinese language, measure words or classifiers (量词 liàng cí) are used along with numerals to define the quantity of a given object or objects, or with this/that to identify specific objects.
In the Chinese language, measure words or classifiers (量词 liàng cí) are used along with numerals to define the quantity of a given object or objects, or with this/that to identify specific objects.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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