Update: 2012-11-24 07:04 AM +0630


TIL Grammar Glossary


Compiled by U Kyaw Tun (UKT), M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.), and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, http://www.tuninst.net ), from various sources. Prepared for students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, Myanmar. Not for sale.

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Grammar Glossary - M

main clause main verb malapropism mass noun measure word mechanics metaphor metonymy mini-dictionary minimal pair misplaced modifier mixed conditionals mixed construction mixed metaphor MLA style (Modern Language Assoc. style) modal / modal verb modality modifier monolingual dictionary monosyllabic MOO mood (mode) morpheme MUD

UKT Notes
linguistic modality measure word (numerical classifiers)

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main clause

See apodosis  clause  principal clause .

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main verb

See verb phrase

From LBH
The part of a verb phrase that carries the principal meaning:
     had been walking,
     could happen,
     was chilled.

From UseE
The main verb is the most important verb in a sentence; without it, the sentence would not be complete.

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From UseE
Mrs Malaprop was a character in a play by the British writer Sheridan who confused words and used incorrect words that sounded similar to the word she meant to say. If someone does this it is a Malapropism. Example:
     A politician is alleged to have said that he would support a colleague to the best of his "mobility", instead of "ability".

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measure word

From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_word 080629
See the complete article in my notes: measure word (numerical classifier)

In linguistics, measure words, known more formally as numeral classifiers and also called counters, count words, counter words, or counting words, are words (or morphemes) that are used in combination with a numeral to indicate the count of nouns. The term "numeral classifier" arises from the fact that measure words often classify the noun they modify into some semantic class closely akin, but distinct from grammatical number or gender. Measure words are most often used when counting. Their use is analogous to English words that represent units or portions of mass nouns, for example one drop of milk, fifty head of cattle, three pieces of cake.

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mass noun (uncountable noun)

See noun

From LBH
Another term for noncount noun.

From UseE
A mass noun has no plural form, often referring to a substance.

[e.g.] butter smoke money 
These nouns have no plurals.

Mass nouns are also called uncountable.

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From LBH
The use of capital letters, underlining or italics, abbreviations, numbers, and divided words. (See Chapters 3337.)

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See figurative language.

From UseE
A metaphor is a word or phrase that describes one thing being used to describe another; on a simple level a phrase such as 'the heart of the matter' is a metaphor as matters do not actually have hearts. Metaphorical phrases are widely used in English.

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From UseE
Metonymy is a word or phrase that is used to represent something it is closely associated with: Wall Street represents the American financial world, much of which is located in Wall Street.
Internet links: {Irony}; {Hyperbole}; {Sarcasm}; {Slang}; {Synechdoche}; {Jargon}; {Tautology}; {Understatement}; {Litotes}; {Rhetorical Question}; {Cliche}; {Allegory} {Figure of Speech}

A figure of speech in which one word or phrase is substituted for another with which it is closely associated, as in the use of Washington for the United States government or of the sword for military power. [Late Latin metnymia from Greek metnumiameta- meta- onuma name; See n -men- in Indo-European Roots.] metonymic or metonymical adj. metonymically adv.

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From UseE
A mini-dictionary is a little dictionary, also called a pocket dictionary.

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minimal pair

From UseE
A minimal pair consists of two words that have just one small difference in sound with different meanings. 'Ship' and 'Sheep' are a minimal pair.

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misplaced modifier

See dangling modifier

From LBH 
A modifier so far from the term it modifies or so close to another term it could modify that its relation to the rest of the sentence is unclear. (See Chapter 21.)

* The boys played with firecrackers that they bought illegally in the field. -- misplaced
The boys played in the field with firecrackers that they bought illegally. -- revised

A squinting modifier could modify the words on either side of it:

The plan we considered seriously worries me.

n. A modifying clause or phrase placed so awkwardly as to create ambiguity or misunderstanding. For example, in:

Streaking through the sky, we watched the rocket reenter the atmosphere.
the phrase Streaking through the sky is misplaced.

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mixed conditional

From UseE
Third / Second Mixed Conditionals
FORMATION: If + Past Perfect + Would + Base Form
For imaginary present actions or situations that are not possible because the necessary conditions were not met in the past.

If you had taken the course, you would know about it.
(The conditions were not met because the person did not do the course and as a result does not know about it now.)

From UseE
Second / Third Mixed Conditionals

FORMATION: If + Past Simple + Would have + Past Participle
To avoid the illogicality of saying 'If I had been you', which means that "I was not you" on that occasion, but could be in the future, which is, of course, impossible.

If I were you, I wouldn't have done that.

  Where the first part is still true:

If I could speak Spanish, I wouldn't have needed to get the letter translated.
This means that I couldn't speak Spanish then when I needed the translator and still can't.

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mixed construction 

From LBH
A sentence containing two or more parts that do not fit together in grammar or in meaning. (See pp. 40710.)

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mixed metaphor 

See figurative language.

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MLA style (Modern Language Assoc. style)

From LBH
The style of documenting sources recommended by the Modern Language Association and used in many of the humanities, including English. (For explanation and examples, see Chapter 46.)

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modal / modal verb

See auxiliary verb helping verb linking verb verb to be  .
See modal verb in my notes.

modal adj. 1. Of, relating to, or characteristic of a mode. 2. Grammar  Of, relating to, or expressing the mood of a verb. 3. Music Of, relating to, characteristic of, or composed in any of the modes typical of medieval church music. 4. Philosophy Of or relating to mode without referring to substance. 5. Logic Expressing or characterized by modality. 6. Statistics Of or relating to a statistical mode or modes. [Medieval Latin modālis from Latin modus measure; See med- in Indo-European Roots.]

From LBH
Of, relating to, or expressing the mood of a verb.

From UseE 
Modal verbs are used to express ideas such as possibility, intention, obligation and necessity.
Examples: can / could will / would shall / should dare / ought to / need

I would have told you, if you had wanted me to.
Yes, I can do that.

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See linguistic modality in my notes.


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See adjective  adverb 

From LBH 
Any word or word group that limits or qualifies the meaning of another word or word group. Modifiers include adjectives and adverbs as well as words, phrases, and clauses that act as adjectives and adverbs.

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monolingual dictionary

From UseE
A monolingual dictionary uses the same language for the words and their definitions.

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From UseE
A monosyllabic word only has one syllable.
     bar / her / its / why / just / not / both / since / health

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See synchronous communication.

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mood (mode)

UKT note
cases (for nouns and pronouns): subjective case (subject case), objective case (object case), and possessive case, which are also called the subjective, objective, and possessive, respectively.
moods or modes (for verbs): indicative mood, imperative mood, subjunctive mood, which are also called indicative, imperative, subjunctive. The closeness in spelling of subjective and subjunctive is a source of confusion for many students.

From LBH
The form of a verb that shows how the speaker or writer views the action. (See pp. 32729.)

The indicative mood, the most common, is used to make statements or ask questions:

The play will be performed Saturday.
Did you get the tickets?

The imperative mood gives a command:

Please get good seats.

The subjunctive mood expresses a wish, a condition contrary to fact, a recommendation, or a request:

I wish George were coming with us. Did you suggest that he join us?

From UseE 
Mood shows the attitude of the speaker or the writer to the action or state described by the verb.
The Indicative is the verb used in ordinary statements and questions:

She went home.
Has she called yet?

The Imperative is used to give orders and instructions:

Go home.
Come and see me.

The Subjunctive is used to express doubts, wishes, etc. It is not used much in English any more and exists in a few phrases:

If I were you, I'd speak to her about it straightaway.
Be that as it may.

From CoG
Mood or mode is an attribute of verbs that suggests part of the speakers attitude toward the action the verb specifies.
If the action is a fact:

He went home. -- the mood is indicative.

If the verb gives a command:

Go home! --  the mood is imperative.

If the action is conjectural or is a possibility:

If he were to go home, --  the mood is subjunctive.

English distinguishes mood partly through morphology; for example:
third person singular present indicative verbs end in -s
     she goes / it rhymes / he lingers
third person singular present subjunctive verbs do not end in -s
     if she go / if it rhyme / if he linger  
English also indicates subjunctive mood by means of modal auxiliaries:
     if she should go / if it might rhyme / if he could linger  

Internet link: See MODAL AUXILIARIES.
Kenneth G. Wilson (1923).  The Columbia Guide to Standard American English.  1993.

Moods in Verbs,  by L. Kip Wheeler.  Last updated January 12, 2003. kip@hwaet.org http://guweb2.gonzaga.edu/faculty/wheeler/index.html  http://www.gonzaga.edu/
Most Indo-European languages, in addition to verb tenses (which demonstrate time), have verb moods (which indicate a state of being or reality). For instance, the most common moods in English include the following:

The indicative (indicating a state of factuality and reality):

A cat sits on the stove.

Most sentences in English are in the indicative mood. It simply states a fact of some sort, or describes what happens, or gives details about reality.

The interrogative (indicating a state of questioning):

Will you leave me alone now?

One marker of the interrogative is that frequently the speaker inverts the subject-verb order by placing the helping verb first, before the subject:

Will you leave me alone?
   instead of
   *You will leave me alone.

Frequently the interrogative appears with requests for a course of action or requests for information.

The imperative (indicating a state of command):

Give me back my money.

One marker of the imperative is that frequently the subject does not appear in the sentence, but is only implied:

(You) Give me back my money.

The conditional (indicating a conditional state that will cause something else to happen):

The bomb might explode if I jiggle that switch.

The bomb could explode if you jiggle that switch. 

The conditional is marked by the words might, could, and would. Frequently, a phrase in the conditional appears closely linked to a phrase in the subjunctive (see below) preceded by a subordinate conjunction like if.

Another, rarer mood is the subjunctive mood (indicating a hypothetical state, a state contrary to reality, such as a wish, a desire, or an imaginary situation). It is harder to explain the subjunctive. Five hundred years ago, English had a highly developed subjunctive mood. However, after the fourteenth century, speakers of English used the subjunctive less frequently. Today, the mood has practically vanished; modern speakers tend to use the conditional forms of "could" and "would" to indicate statements contrary to reality. The subjunctive only survives in a few, fossilized examples, which can be confusing.

From http://french.about.com/library/glossary/

UKT: Wishing to check the above, I tried on 080612, to link up to http://french.about.com/library/glossary/. Navigating, I arrived at a page from which I have copied the insert below.

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From UseE
A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning. A word can contain more than one morpheme:

'Unable' can be divided into two morphemes
   - the prefix 'un' and 'able', whereas the word
'mahogany' cannot be divided into anything smaller.

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See synchronous communication.

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UKT notes

linguistic modality

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_modality 080717

In linguistics, modals are expressions broadly associated with notions of possibility and necessity. Modals have a wide variety of interpretations which depend not only upon on the particular modal used, but also upon where the modal occurs in a sentence, the meaning of the sentence independent of the modal, the conversational context, and a variety of other factors. For example, the interpretation of an English sentence containing the modal 'must' can be that of a statement of inference or knowledge (roughly, epistemic) or a statement of how something ought to be (roughly, deontic). The following pair of examples illustrate the interpretative difference:

(1) John didn't show up for work. He must be sick.
(2) John didn't show up for work. He must be fired.

The use of 'must' in (1) is interpreted as indicating statement of a reasoned conclusion: the speaker concludes John is sick, because otherwise, John would have shown up for work. In contrast, in (2), 'must' is interpreted as a statement of how something ought to be: the speaker is say that, because John didn't show up for work, John ought to be fired.

The use of a modal, particularly in cases like example (1) above, contrasts subtlely with not using a modal, as illustrated below:

(3) John must be sick.
(4) John is sick.

The use of the modal in (3) is interpreted as indicating that some process of reasoning was used to arrive at the conclusion that John is sick. The lack of the modal in (4) tends to preclude such an interpretation, and is generally considered to be a statement of fact (i.e., the speaker knows that John is sick). In other words, a speaker would typically not say (3) if the speaker knows that (4) is true.

Modality is expressed in different ways by different languages. Modality can be expressed via grammaticized elements such as auxiliary verbs or verb endings, via indirect means such as a preposition phrase or a clause, or in other ways, such as via adverbs. For example, in English, the two sentences below have roughly the same meaning, but express the meaning in two different forms:

(5) It is possible that the moon is made of cheese.
(6) The moon might be made of cheese.

Subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, differences in interpretation occur depending on the way modality is expressed. Certain forms of expression may highlight certain aspects of modal meaning. Many languages will mark some modalities with particular word endings, etc., but will leave other means for marking other modalities (e.g. phrases).

Traditionally, studies of modality distinguish between:

(a) sentence modality, which deals with sentence types, such as declarative (a statement), imperative (a command), interrogative (a question), optative (a wish), exclamatory (an exclamation), etc., and

(b) verbal modality, which deals with the modal verbs and the mood of verbs.

Many different kinds of modal interpretations have been observed and studied, resulting in a variety of typologies. What follows below is one of the many ways that modality has been classified. Only broad categories have been distinguished below: the reader is referred to the references for more detailed discussions.

Epistemic modals are used to indicate the possibility or necessity of some piece of knowledge. In the epistemic use, modals can be interpreted as indicating inference or some other process of reasoning involved in coming to the conclusion stated in the sentence containing the modal. However, epistemic modals do not necessarily require inference, reasoning, or evidence. One effect of using an epistemic modal (as opposed to not using one) is a general weaking of the speaker's commitment to the truth of the sentence containing the modal. However, it is disputed whether the function of modals is to indicate this weakening of commitment, or whether the weakening is a by-product of some other aspect of the modal's meaning.

Deontic modals are those that indicate how the world ought to be, according to certain norms, expectations, speaker desire, etc. In other words, deontic uses indicate that the state of the world (where 'world' is loosely defined here in terms of the circumstances surrounding the use of the modal) does not meet some standard or ideal, whether that standard be social standards (such as laws), personal desires, etc. The sentence containing the deontic modal generally indicates some action that would change the world such that it is closer to the standard/ideal.

Propositional attitudes
When considering modality it is useful to distinguish between two parts:

The dictum: what is said
The modus: how it is said, i.e. the speaker's propositional attitude toward what is said, e.g. the speaker's cognitive, emotive, and/or volitive attitude.

Consider the following English sentence:

It is hot outside.

This dictum could be paired with various types of modi, such as the following:

I think that it is hot outside.
I believe that it is hot outside.
I know that it is hot outside.
I hope that it is hot outside.
I doubt that it is hot outside.
It must be hot outside.
It has to be hot outside.
It might be hot outside.
It could be hot outside.
It needn't be hot outside.
It shouldn't be hot outside.
It is probably hot outside.
Perhaps it is hot outside.
It is possible that it is hot outside.
It is certain that it is hot outside.
It is probable that it is hot outside.
It is likely that it is hot outside.

Possible worlds
One approach to studying modal expressions has been through the use of a possible worlds theory.

the relativization of the validity of sentence meanings to a set of possible worlds. Talk about possible worlds can thus be construed as talk about the ways in which people could conceive the world to be different
-- Kiefer 1994:2514

Roughly, possible worlds accounts of modals generally claim that modals indicate existence of possible worlds where the sentence containing the modal (minus the modal itself) is true, although this is a broad characterization.

Epistemic modality & evidentiality
Epistemic modality appears to have a close relationship with evidentiality, due to some characteristics which expressions of both types have in common. However, it is not certain what the nature of the relationship is. The crux of the debate is, essentially, this question: Is evidentiality a kind of epistemic modality, or are evidentiality and epistemic modality distinct, only sharing (more or less) some common characteristics?

See also
Grammatical mood Modality (semiotics) Modal logic Deontic logic Epistemology Epistemic modality Epistemic mood Evidentiality

Wikipedia bibliography
Blakemore, D. (1994). Evidence and modality. In R. E. Asher (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of language and linguistics (pp. 1183-1186). Oxford: Pergamon Press. ISBN 0-08-035943-4.
Bybee, Joan; & Fleischman, Suzanne (Eds.). (1995). Modality in grammar and discourse. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Bybee, Joan; Perkins, Revere, & Pagliuca, William. (1994). The evolution of grammar: Tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world. Chicago: University of Chicago Press..
Calbert, J. P. (1975). Toward the semantics of modality. In J. P. Calbert & H. Vater (Eds.), Aspekte der Modalitt. Tbingen: Gunter Narr.
Chung, Sandra; & Timberlake, Alan. (1985). Tense, aspect and mood. In T. Shopen (Ed.), Language typology and syntactic description: Grammatical categories and the lexicon (Vol. 3, pp. 202-258). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kiefer, Ferenc. (1986). Epistemic possibility and focus. In W. Abraham & S. de Meij (Eds.), Topic, focus, and configurationality. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Kiefer, Ferenc. (1994). Modality. In R. E. Asher (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of language and linguistics (pp. 2515-2520). Oxford: Pergamon Press. ISBN 0-08-035943-4.
Kratzer, A. (1981). The notional category of modality. In H.-J. Eikmeyer & H. Rieser (Eds.), Words, worlds, and contexts: New approaches in word semantics. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Palmer, F. R. (1979). Modality and the English modals. London: Longman.
Palmer, F. R. (1986). Mood and modality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-26516-9, ISBN 0-521-31930-7. (2nd ed. published 2001).
Palmer, F. R. (2001). Mood and modality (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80035-8, ISBN 0-521-80479-5.
Palmer, F. R. (1994). Mood and modality. In R. E. Asher (Ed.), The Encyclopedia of language and linguistics (pp. 2535-2540). Oxford: Pergamon Press.
Saeed, John I. (2003). Sentence semantics 1: Situations: Modality and evidentiality. In J. I Saeed, Semantics (2nd. ed) (Sec. 5.3, pp. 135-143). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-22692-3, ISBN 0-631-22693-1.
Sweetser, E. E. (1982). Root and epistemic modality: Causality in two worlds. Berkeley Linguistic Papers, 8, 484-507.

End of Wikipedia article.
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measure word (numerical classifier)

From Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_word 080629

In linguistics, measure words, known more formally as numeral classifiers and also called counters, count words, counter words, or counting words, are words (or morphemes) that are used in combination with a numeral to indicate the count of nouns. The term "numeral classifier" arises from the fact that measure words often classify the noun they modify into some semantic class closely akin, but distinct from grammatical number or gender. Measure words are most often used when counting. Their use is analogous to English words that represent units or portions of mass nouns, for example one drop of milk, fifty head of cattle, three pieces of cake.

Measure words are part of the grammar of most East Asian languages, including Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Malay, Burmese language, Thai, and Hmong, Bengali and the Munda languages just to the west of this area. Among indigenous languages of the Americas measure words occur in the Pacific Northwest, especially among the Tsimshianic languages, and in many languages of Mesoamerica, including Classic Maya. They also occur in some languages of the Amazon Basin (most famously Yagua) and a very small number of West African languages.

In contrast, measure words are entirely absent not only from familiar European languages, but also from most of northern Asia (Uralic languages), from Australian Aboriginal languages, and also from indigenous languages of the southern parts of both North and South America. In Austronesian languages, measure words have been acquired as a result of contact with Mon-Khmer languages but the most remote members such as Malagasy and Hawaiian have gradually lost them.

Indo-European languages
In contrast to Asian languages and others, measure words are not grammatical in the case of most Indo-European languages including English.

English has a distinction between mass nouns and count nouns, and employs a small number of fixed words that can be considered semantically-oriented counters. Consider the following:

five head of cattle (said by ranchers)
ten stem of roses (said by florists)
three pair of pants (or pairs)

Note that the preceding measure words are singular in form. If they were plural, the first two phrases would have different meanings.

Most measure words in English are more accurately called units of measurement. They are normal count nouns, not grammatical particles. A measure word is the only way to quantify a mass noun:

three cups of coffee
four kernels of corn, three ears of corn, two bushels of corn
one litre of water

A water or a corn (taken in the sense of grain) do not make sense and are almost never heard.

With count nouns, however, measure words are unnecessary. A number alone can be used as an adjective to modify the noun to be counted:

four pencils
three horses

However you cannot say "three cattles".

English also features some cases in which the number and the measure word are combined as a single word: for example, when counting

golfers: twosome, threesome, foursome...
musicians: solo, duet, trio, quartet ...
wombmates: twins, triplets, quadruplets....

See also collective noun for a concept related to measure words that is found in English.

Although not typical for an Indo-European language, Bengali makes use of measure words. [UKT: In many ways Bengali is similar to Burmese-Myanmar which is slowly making me believe that it might have been a Tibeto-Burman language. -- UKT 080629] Every noun in this language must have its corresponding measure word (MW) when used with a numeral or other quantifier. Most nouns take the generic measure word ţa, although there are many more specific measure words, such as jon, which is only used to count humans. Still, the number of measure words in Bengali certainly does not compare to that of Chinese or Japanese. As in Chinese, Bengali nouns are not inflected for number.

Similar to the situation in Chinese, measuring nouns in Bengali without their corresponding measure words (e.g. aţ biŗal instead of aţ-ţa biŗal "eight cats") would typically be considered ungrammatical. However, omitting the noun and preserving the measure word is grammatical and not uncommon to hear. For example, Shudhu k-jon thakbe. (lit. "Only one-MW will remain.") would be understood to mean "Only one person will remain.", since jon can only be used to count humans. The word lok "person" is implied.

UKT: The equivalent of Shudhu k-jon thakbe  in Burmese-Myanmar is:
{tic-U: tha kyan tau.m} where {tic-U:} is the equivalent of k-jon .

East Asian Languages
Languages such as Ainu, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai use measure words as the standard way of indicating the count of the number of items, rather than, as in most Indo-European languages, allowing numbers to count a noun directly.

In Burmese, measure words, in the form of particles, are used when counting or measuring nouns. They immediately follow the numerical quantification. Nouns to which the classifiers refer to can be omitted if the context allows, because many classifiers have implicit meanings.

UKT: It is unfortunate that the browser does not display Myanmar Unicode font in which Wikipedia has presented the Burmese-Myanmar words. Though I can make out most of the words, I have to guess or leave out some which I cannot decipher from the transcription and translation given. The 3 sentences are:

1. He has two chopsticks.

{thu tu nhic-hkyaung: rhi. t}

Wrong use of measure word by Wikipedia: grammatically and culturally: culture-wise inappropriate because Myanmars do not use chop-sticks to eat. Contrary to the impression most Westerners have, Myanmars are very unlike the Chinese and are more similar to the Indians particularly the Bengalis. A correct example is:

{thu. mha hk:tn nhic-hkyaung: rhi. t} -- He has two pencils.

2. Do you have seven tables?

{sa:pw: hkwun-nhic hkyp rhi. la:}

Wrong use of measure word and wrong spelling of number seven by Wikipedia. The corrected sentence is:

{sa:pw: hku.nhic lon: rhi.tha.la:}

3. one person or a person

{lu tic U:}

Some classifiers have very specific meanings:

UKT: Refer to Romanization
1. hsu - {hsu}
2. tote; toke; touk - {toat}
3. kyaik; kyike - {kyeik}
4. myu - {mru}
5. ya - {ya}
6. shin - {rhi:} , e.g. {nwa:tic-rhi:} 'a pair of oxen' - MOrtho p.233
7. hlaing; hline - {lheing:}

In Mandarin, nouns are not conjugated for singular or plural numerus; a noun without a classifier can be translated as either singular or plural. Classifiers are used when enumerating a count noun:

Measure words are not used in Classical Chinese. In all dialects of modern Chinese, however, measure words are obligatory with enumeration of all count nouns; "yī rn" in modern Chinese when used as a measure word is grammatically incorrect. The choice of a classifier for each noun is a matter of grammar, is somewhat arbitrarythough frequently corresponds with a relatively well-defined classification of objects based on physical characteristicsand must be memorized by learners of Chinese. The classifier assigned to a noun often has an imagistic association with that object. Thus, zhāng has table as one of its meanings, and is used for large and thin objects. (Though uncommon, it is even possible to omit the noun if the choice of classifier makes the intended noun obviouslike the Bengali example above.) Not all classifier words derive from nouns. For example, the word can also be a verb meaning to grab, and is the measure word for objects that have handles.

In Japanese grammar, most nouns are effectively mass nouns, and measure words must be used with a number when counting them. The appropriate measure word is chosen based on the kind and shape of the noun, and combines with the numeral, sometimes adopting several different forms. This is similar to noun classes in many African languages, except that the classifiers are used only when counting.

See also:
Analytic language Classifier (linguistics) Collective noun Grammatical number Korean count word Mass noun Numeral Quantification Unit of measurement

End of Wikipedia article
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modal verb

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modal_verb 080717

A modal verb (also modal, modal auxiliary verb, modal auxiliary) is a type of auxiliary verb that is used to indicate modality. The use of auxiliary verbs to express modality is characteristic of Germanic languages.

Modal verbs give additional information about the mood of the main verb that follows it. In other words, they help to incorporate or add the level of necessity: (must = obligation, requirement, no choice); (should = recommendation); (can /could = it is possible); and (may/might = option, choice).

Most modal verbs have two distinct interpretations, epistemic (expressing how certain the factual status of the embedded proposition is) and deontic (involving notions of permission and obligation). The following sentences illustrate the two uses of must:

epistemic: You must be starving. (= "It is necessarily the case that you are starving.")

deontic: You must leave now. (= "You are required to leave now.")

ambiguous: You must speak Spanish.
epistemic = "It is surely the case that you speak Spanish (e.g., after having lived in Spain for 10 years)."
deontic = "It is a requirement that you speak Spanish (e.g., if you want to get a job in Spain)."

Epistemic modals can be analyzed as raising verbs, while deontic modals can be analyzed as control verbs.

This table lists some modal verbs with common roots in English, German and Dutch. English modal auxiliary verb provides an exhaustive list of modal verbs in English.

The words in this list are not translations of each other! Words in the same row share the same etymological root. But, because of semantic drift, words in the same row may no longer be proper translations of each other. For instance, the German verb "drfen" is closer in meaning to the English verb "may" than to its cognate "dare".

For German and Dutch, both the plural and singular form of the verb are shown. In English, the plural and singular form are identical.

UKT: A comparison of Burmese-Myanmar auxiliary verbs to the English:
<can> {neing} : <He can do it.> {thu loap neing t}
<shall> {thing.} : <He shall do it.> {thu loap thing. t}
<will> {laim.} : <He will do it.> {thu loap laim. m}
<may> {hkying} : <He may do it.> {thu loap hkying loap laim. m}
<dare> {r:} : <He dares do it.> {thu loap r: t}
-- I am waiting from input from my Burmese peers. 080717

Note: The word {neing} is entered in MEDict-234 as:
{neing} -- particle suffixed to verbs to denote capability, probability or possibility ... usually expressed in English with auxiliary verbs <can> <may> <be able to>, <be likely to>, etc. -- MEDict-234

The English could is the past tense of can, should is the past tense of shall and might is the past tense of may. These verbs have acquired an independent, present tense meaning. The German form mchten is sometimes taught as a vocabulary word and included in the list of modal verbs, but it is actually the past subjunctive form of mgen.

The English verbs dare and need have both a modal use (he dare not do it), and a non-modal use (he doesn't dare to do it). The Dutch verb durven is not included in the list because its modal use has disappeared, but it has a non-modal use analogous with the English dare. Other English modal verbs include want, wish, and hope. All of these differ from the main modals in English (ie. most of those in the table above) in that they take the particle to in the infinitive, like all other English verbs (may; to want), and are followed by to when they are used as a modal (may go; want to go).

Germanic modal verbs are preterite-present verbs, which means that their present tense has the form of a vocalic preterite. This is the source of the vowel alternation between singular and plural in German and Dutch. Because of their preterite origins, modal verbs also lack the suffix (-s in modern English, -t in German and Dutch) that would normally mark the third person singular form:

The main verb that is modified by the modal verb is in the infinitive form and is not preceded by the word to (German: zu, Dutch: te). There are verbs that may seem somewhat similar in meaning to modal verbs (e.g. like, want), but the construction with such verbs would be different:

In English, main verbs require the auxiliary verb do to form negations or questions. Modal verbs never use this auxiliary do :

Modal verbs are called defective verbs because of their incomplete conjugation: they have a narrower range of functions than ordinary verbs.

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