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Two General Classifiers in the Shanghai Wu Dialect: A Comparison with Mandarin and Cantonese

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image of Cahiers de Linguistique Asie Orientale

An intriguing feature of the Shanghai Wu dialect c1assifier system is that it possesses two general c1assifiers: 个/gə?1 and 只/tsə?5. In this article, we set out to tease apart the differences in their frequency and usage and to consider the larger question of general versus sortal c1assifiers in three Sinitic languages, namely Mandarin, Cantonese and Shanghainese. It is shown that 只/tsə?5/ acts less like a general c1assifier than does 个/gə?1 according to the three main parameters used, and that Shanghainese and Cantonese make greater use of sortal c1assifiers than does Mandarin.


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