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Title: The conceptual semantics of numbers and counting: An NSM analysis
Contributor(s): Goddard, Cliff  (author)
Publication Date: 2009
DOI: 10.1075/fol.16.2.02god
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Abstract: This study explores the conceptual semantics of numbers and counting, using the natural semantic metalanguage (NSM) technique of semantic analysis (Wierzbicka 1996; Goddard & Wierzbicka (eds.) 2002). It first argues that the concept of a number in one of its senses (number₁, roughly, "number word") and the meanings of low number words, such as one, two, and three, can be explicated directly in terms of semantic primes, without reference to any counting procedures or practices. It then argues, however, that the larger numbers, and the productivity of the number sequence, depend on the concept and practice of counting, in the intransitive sense of the verb. Both the intransitive and transitive senses of counting are explicated, and the semantic relationship between them is clarified. Finally, the study moves to the semantics of abstract numbers (number₂), roughly, numbers as represented by numerals, e.g. 5, 15, 27, 36, as opposed to number words. Though some reference is made to cross-linguistic data and cultural variation, the treatment is focused primarily on English.
Publication Type: Journal Article
Source of Publication: Functions of Language, 16(2), p. 193-224
Publisher: John Benjamins Publishing Company
Place of Publication: Amsterdam, The Netherlands
ISSN: 0929-998X
Field of Research (FOR): 200408 Linguistic Structures (incl Grammar, Phonology, Lexicon, Semantics)
170299 Cognitive Science not elsewhere classified
Peer Reviewed: Yes
HERDC Category Description: C1 Refereed Article in a Scholarly Journal
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