Split Number in Nungon


  • Hannah S Sarvasy University of California, Los Angeles




"Mixed" or "top and second" number systems (Dixon 2012:52, Corbett 2000:120-121), in which different number systems occur in different parts of a language's grammar, are not unusual in Papuan languages. The Animacy Hierarchy (Corbett 2000:56; Smith-Stark 1974) dictates that if a grammar involves more than one number system, the system that includes more number distinctions should function higher on the hierarchy (Corbett 2000:121). Papuan languages of the Finisterre branch of the Finisterre-Huon language group (Madang and Morobe Provinces, Papua New Guinea) are unusual in that number system splits may be found, not only along the Animacy Hierarchy, but between different sets of pronouns, and even between different verbal tense markings. This paper describes the number system splits in the Finisterre Papuan language Nungon and gives historical explanations for the splits between pronoun sets and some of the splits between tenses.

Author Biography

  • Hannah S Sarvasy, University of California, Los Angeles
    Lecturer, Linguistics