Yvette Yi-Chi Wu Humanities and Social Science
Plurality in Southern Chinese Languages
While languages like English use grammatical markers to signal plurality (like the -s in cat-s), languages like Chinese use separate words called classifiers. A classifier is a unit of measurement that allows the noun it describes to be countable, similar to saying three pieces of furniture instead of three furniture-s in English. Although Chinese has long been researched as a classifier language, most existing work has focused on Mandarin, overlooking the variations that exist among Chinese languages. By conducting research on variations in plurality among southern Chinese languages (including Cantonese, Hokkien, and Hakka), I hope to contribute to the existing literature on classifier languages, as well as call attention to under-studied languages. Since the field of linguistics seeks to parse what aspects of grammar are universal versus language-specific, comparative research on how languages realize plurality can further this endeavor.