DEFINITE NUMERALS IN PUREPECHA

2017-12-01T02:43:59Z (GMT) by Violeta Vázquez Rojas Maldonado
<p></p><p>ABSTRACT: In Purepecha (language isolate spoken in the state of Michoacán, central western Mexico), numeral expressions can bear a final marker -perani. This suffix has been described as a collective and as a distributive marker. In this paper I show that numeral phrases with -perani have the semantics of a definite noun phrase, in the sense that they can only be used when the cardinality expressed by the numeral matches exactly the total cardinality of the set denoted by the noun in the context of use. Furthermore, numeral phrases with -perani can have anaphoric uses and cannot introduce new referents in discourse. The existence of an explicit marker of definiteness in numerals contrasts with its complete absence in simple noun phrases: Purepecha is well known as a language without definite articles. Lastly, the syntactic distribution of numerals with -perani does not exactly match the distribution of numerals with definite articles in European languages. Numerals with -perani may co-occur with demonstratives and may not appear as the restriction of a partitive construction. I also show that simple numerals (that is, without -perani) can have indefinite or partitive interpretations, and do not receive definite readings.</p><p></p>