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Re-evaluating the ‘numeral classifier’ system in Mochica
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Mochica. Andean languages. Numeral classification. Special counting systems.

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BELLAMY, K. Re-evaluating the ‘numeral classifier’ system in Mochica. LIAMES: Línguas Indígenas Americanas, Campinas, SP, v. 18, n. 1, p. 81–98, 2018. DOI: 10.20396/liames.v1i1.8650148. Disponível em: Acesso em: 30 nov. 2023.


Mochica, an extinct language of northern Peru, possesses an areally uncommon class of morphemes that have been variously termed quantifiers, numeral classifiers and alternative numerals. In this paper I reanalyse these terms as a special counting system for counting pairs, tens or hundreds of particular items, that exists alongside a standard, decimal numeral system. This compound system is compared with the similar special counting systems attested in Oceanic languages, which have also developed in parallel with extensive decimal counting systems to enable more efficient counting of culturally salient items, thereby also reducing cognitive load.
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