Ojibwe is an Algonquian language spoken around the Great Lakes region of the United States and Canada. It has grammatical gender and a classifier system, which are rare in a single language (Corbett, 1991:137; Fedden and Corbett, 2017). I provide a detailed and typologically-informed analysis of numeral and verbal classifiers in Ojibwe. Numeral classifiers can be of two types: mensural, referring to measurements, and sortal, referring to properties such as dimensionality, size, and material. It is shown that these types can be distinguished by occurring with differing forms for the numeral ‘one’, and sortal classifiers are vital to understanding gender assignment. Assignment is mostly straightforward, with all nouns denoting humans and animals in the ANIMATE category, and the vast majority of nouns denoting inanimates in the INANIMATE category. However, some nouns with inanimate referents are ANIMATE. Previously characterized as ‘exceptions’ to semantic assignment, they are motivated by compatibility with the semantics of one of these sortal classifiers, as illustrated by pairings of classifiers and nouns (1). I also discuss the role of analogical extension, dialectal variation, diachronic change and claims for an interaction of gender with the count/mass distinction. 1. a. /-aatig/ ‘1D, rigid’, i.e. stick-like - mitig ‘tree’ b. /-aabiig/ ‘1D, flexible’, i.e. string-like - zesab ‘nettle’ c. /-eg/ ‘2D, flexible’, i.e. sheet-like - asekaan ‘tanned hide’ d. /-minag/ ‘3D, small, round’, i.e. berry-like - miskomin ‘raspberry’ e. /-aabik/ ‘mineral’, i.e. metal, stone, glass - asin ‘a stone’




Downloads Statistics

Download Full History