Grammatical typology and frequency analysis: number availability and number use

Dunstan Brown, University of York, United Kingdom
Greville G. Corbett, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Sebastian Fedden, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Andrew Hippisley, University of Kentucky, United States
Paul Marriott, University of Waterloo, Canada


The Smith-Stark hierarchy, a version of the Animacy Hierarchy, offers a typology of the cross-linguistic availability of number. The hierarchy predicts that the availability of number is not arbitrary. For any language, if the expression of plural is available to a noun, it is available to any noun of a semantic category further to the left of the hierarchy. In this article we move one step further by showing that the structure of the hierarchy can be observed in a statistical model of number use in Russian. We also investigate three co-variates: plural preference, pluralia tantum and irregularity effects; these account for an item's behaviour being different than that solely expected from its animacy position.


animacy hierarchy; frequency; number; Russian

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ISSN of the paper edition: 2299-856X