Semantic universals of classifier systems

This is a Polish-French-Swedish project in which we will investigate classifiers, a type of categorization that is widespread in the world’s languages and shows a remarkable diversity in terms of semantics and means of expression. We will create a database of 3000+ languages that will offer a comprehensive, ground-breaking set of tools allowing descriptive and theoretical generalisations about classifier systems, involving both holistic approaches and more fine-tuned case studies on classifier types and linguistic areas.

Specific issues that will be addressed concern fundamental aspects of classifier systems, i.e., the types of classifiers and semantic values used for categorization of nominal referents, the universal vs. language-specific nature of classifiers, and correlations between classifier type and its semantics. For example, with regard to the universality of semantic values, our aim is to determine which values are more common cross-linguistically and which tend to be more culture-specific, occurring in particular language families or areas.

The project is funded by the National Science Centre (OPUS programme, 2022/47/B/HS2/02999).