Expressing numerical uncertainty

Erin Zaroukian


In Russian, numeral expressions can be made approximate through Approximative Inversion, whereby the noun and the numeral appear to exchange positions. Approximative Inversion has been analyzed as head movement, where a head containing the noun raises to the left of the numeral, but this leads to incorrect semantics. I propose that Approximative Inversion involves post-nominal generation of the numeral in a reduced relative structure, where it is associated with a feature marking speaker uncertainty. This feature triggers a round-number reading of the numeral, resulting in what appears to be number approximation due to speaker uncertainty.

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