Abstract

While the numeral systems of Australian languages are small, they are not uniform. In this article we shed light on the extent of variation in small numeral systems by systematically surveying 189 languages from Pama- Nyungan and non-Pama-Nyungan families. We show that, contra previous assumptions, Australian languages vary extensively in the limits of their numeral system, in the ways in which smaller numerals may be combined to form larger ones, and in their ability to denote vague quantities like ‘some’ or ‘few’. We also investigate the etymological sources of words for numerals and find that few terms are reconstructible.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6527
Print ISSN
0003-5483
Pages
pp. 133-160
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-07
Open Access
No
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