Classifier (linguistics)

classifierclassifiersnumeral classifiernoun classifiernumeral classifiersnoun classifiersCLclassifyingnoun-classifierclassificatory
A classifier (abbreviated ' or '), sometimes called a measure word or counter word, is a word or affix that is used to accompany nouns and can be considered to "classify" a noun depending on the type of its referent.wikipedia
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Noun class

noun classesnoun-classclass
Certain parallels can be drawn between classifier systems and noun classes, although there are significant differences.
Noun classes should not be confused with noun classifiers.

List of glossing abbreviations

abbreviatedglossing abbreviationglossing abbreviations
A classifier (abbreviated ' or '), sometimes called a measure word or counter word, is a word or affix that is used to accompany nouns and can be considered to "classify" a noun depending on the type of its referent.

Numeral (linguistics)

numeralnumeralsnumber names
In languages that have classifiers, they are often used when the noun is being counted, that is, when it appears with a numeral. Although classifiers were not often used in Classical Chinese, in all modern Chinese varieties, such as Mandarin, nouns are normally required to be accompanied by a classifier or measure word when they are qualified by a numeral or by a demonstrative.
In many languages, such as Chinese, numerals require the use of numeral classifiers.

Sign language

deaf sign languagesign languagessigning
Classifier handshapes appear in some sign languages; these may have a somewhat different grammatical function.
Common linguistic features of many sign languages are the occurrence of classifiers, a high degree of inflection by means of changes of movement, and a topic-comment syntax.

Languages of East Asia

East Asian LanguagesEast Asian languageEast Asians
Classifiers play an important role in the grammar of certain languages, especially East Asian languages, including Korean, Chinese, and Japanese. Classifiers are part of the grammar of most East Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Malay, Burmese, Thai, Hmong, and the Bengali and Munda languages just to the west of the East and Southeast Asia linguistic area.
Languages of both eastern and southeast Asia typically have well-developed systems of numeral classifiers.

Measure word

measure wordsnumeral classifiersclassifier
A classifier (abbreviated ' or '), sometimes called a measure word or counter word, is a word or affix that is used to accompany nouns and can be considered to "classify" a noun depending on the type of its referent. Measure words play a similar role to classifiers, except that they denote a particular quantity of something (a drop, a cupful, a pint, etc.), rather than the inherent countable units associated with a count noun.
The term measure word is also sometimes used to refer to numeral classifiers, which are used with count nouns in some languages.

Chinese grammar

ChineseChinese aspect markersChinese aspects
(Plurals of Chinese nouns are not normally marked in any way; the same form of the noun is used for both singular and plural.)
Chinese nouns require classifiers called liàngcí in order to be counted.

Chinese language

ChineseRegional dialectChinese:
Languages which make systematic use of classifiers include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian languages, Bengali, Assamese, Persian, Austronesian languages, Mayan languages and others. Classifiers are part of the grammar of most East Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Malay, Burmese, Thai, Hmong, and the Bengali and Munda languages just to the west of the East and Southeast Asia linguistic area.
Chinese also has an extensive system of classifiers and measure words, another trait shared with neighboring languages like Japanese and Korean.

Grammatical gender

genderfemininemasculine
Languages with classifiers may have up to several hundred different classifiers, whereas those with noun classes (or in particular, genders) tend to have a smaller number of classes, not always much dependent on the nouns' meaning, and with a variety of grammatical consequences.
Gender systems rarely overlap with numerical classifier systems.

Count noun

countablecountcountable noun
Measure words play a similar role to classifiers, except that they denote a particular quantity of something (a drop, a cupful, a pint, etc.), rather than the inherent countable units associated with a count noun.
Classifiers are sometimes used as count nouns preceding mass nouns, in order to redirect the speaker's focus away from the mass nature.

Khmer language

KhmerCambodianKhmer (Cambodian)
Khmer (Cambodian) also uses classifiers, although they can quite frequently be omitted.
Classifiers appear after numbers when used to count nouns, though not always so consistently as in languages like Chinese.

American Sign Language

ASLsign languageAmerican Sign Language (ASL)
In American Sign Language classifier constructions are used to express position, stative description (size and shape), and how objects are handled manually.
ASL has verbal agreement and aspectual marking and has a productive system of forming agglutinative classifiers.

Assamese language

AssameseAssamese:language
Languages which make systematic use of classifiers include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian languages, Bengali, Assamese, Persian, Austronesian languages, Mayan languages and others.
Assamese has a huge collection of classifiers, which are used extensively for different kinds of objects, acquired from Sino-Tibetan languages.

Classifier handshape

classifier
Classifier handshapes appear in some sign languages; these may have a somewhat different grammatical function.
Classifier (linguistics)

Mayan languages

MayanMayaMayan language
Languages which make systematic use of classifiers include Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian languages, Bengali, Assamese, Persian, Austronesian languages, Mayan languages and others. Among indigenous languages of the Americas, classifiers are present in the Pacific Northwest, especially among the Tsimshianic languages, and in many languages of Mesoamerica, including Classic Maya and most of its modern derivatives.
In many Mayan languages, counting requires the use of numeral classifiers, which specify the class of items being counted; the numeral cannot appear without an accompanying classifier.

Malay grammar

In Malay grammar, classifiers are used to count all nouns, including concrete nouns, abstract nouns and phrasal nouns.
Another distinguishing feature of Malay is its use of measure words, also called classifiers (penjodoh bilangan). In this way, it is similar to many other languages of Asia, including Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Burmese, and Bengali.

Plurale tantum

pluralia tantumalways pluralplural
Some inherently plural nouns require the word pair (or its equivalent) to enable reference to a single object or specified number of objects, as in "a pair of scissors", "three pair(s) of pants", or the French une paire de lunettes ("a pair of (eye)glasses").
Classifier (linguistics)

Determinative

Ddeterminerssemagram
Almost every word ends with an unpronounced grapheme (the so-called “determinative”) that carries no additional phonetic value of its own.
They have no direct counterpart in spoken language, though they may derive historically from glyphs for real words, and functionally they resemble classifiers in East Asian and sign languages.

Sprachbund

linguistic arealanguage areaareal
Classifiers are part of the grammar of most East Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Malay, Burmese, Thai, Hmong, and the Bengali and Munda languages just to the west of the East and Southeast Asia linguistic area.
Shared syntactic features include classifiers, object–verb order and topic–comment structure, though in each case there are exceptions in branches of one or more families.

Vietnamese language

VietnameseVietnamese nameVietnamese-language
Classifiers are part of the grammar of most East Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Malay, Burmese, Thai, Hmong, and the Bengali and Munda languages just to the west of the East and Southeast Asia linguistic area.
Also like other languages in the region, Vietnamese syntax conforms to subject–verb–object word order, is head-initial (displaying modified-modifier ordering), and has a noun classifier system.

Thai language

ThaiThai:Central Thai
Classifiers are part of the grammar of most East Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Malay, Burmese, Thai, Hmong, and the Bengali and Munda languages just to the west of the East and Southeast Asia linguistic area.
(พวกผม, phuak phom, we, masculine; พวกเรา phuak rao,, emphasised we; พวกหมา phuak ma, (the) dogs). Plurals are expressed by adding classifiers, used as measure words, in the form of noun-number-classifier (ครูห้าคน, "teacher five person" for "five teachers").

Mandarin Chinese

MandarinChineseChinese language
Although classifiers were not often used in Classical Chinese, in all modern Chinese varieties, such as Mandarin, nouns are normally required to be accompanied by a classifier or measure word when they are qualified by a numeral or by a demonstrative.
Some southern dialects, and a few Lower Yangtze dialects, preserve an older pattern of subordination without a marking particle, while in others a classifier fulfils the role of the Mandarin particle.

Classic Maya language

Classic MayaClassicClassic Mayan language
Among indigenous languages of the Americas, classifiers are present in the Pacific Northwest, especially among the Tsimshianic languages, and in many languages of Mesoamerica, including Classic Maya and most of its modern derivatives.
In addition, the language employs counter words when quantifying nouns and uses a vigesimal number system.

Determiner

determinersdefinite determinerdemonstrative determiners
Determiner (linguistics)
Classifier (linguistics)

Word

wordsverballexical
A classifier (abbreviated ' or '), sometimes called a measure word or counter word, is a word or affix that is used to accompany nouns and can be considered to "classify" a noun depending on the type of its referent.