yhlee: Sandman raven with eyeball (Sandman raven (credit: rilina))
yhlee ([personal profile] yhlee) wrote in [personal profile] sovay 2015-08-04 09:45 pm (UTC)

First, before I forget again: lovely poem.

Second: From John Lynch's Pacific Languages: An Introduction, University of Hawai'i Press, 1998:
A three-away distinction between singular, dual, adn plural number is perhaps the commonest pattern in Oceanic languages, the dual number referring to two and only two. This pattern is found in Polynesian languages and Rotuman, as well as in many languages in Melanesia and Micronesia....[table of examples omitted because I have no idea how to format it here]

There are two common departures from this pattern. A number of languages in Melanesia and Microensia show only a two-way distinction between singular and plural....

The other variation is quite common in Melanesia (including Fiji), though not elsewhere in the Pacific. It involves a four-way distinction between singular, dual, trial or paucal, and plural. Some of these languages have a trial number, which refers to three and only three....Others have a paucal number, which refers to a few (perhaps three to six or so), or to a small group in comparison with a larger group. (101-2)

Papuan languages are cited as sometimes having dual as well as plural (167), and at least one Australian language, Pitta-Pitta, is cited as having dual as well as plural (186).

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