On the Inherent Complexity of Language: The Interaction of Numerals and Incorporation

John Stonham 1
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1Pukyong National University

Copyright ⓒ 2016, Sejong University Language Research Institue. This is an Open-Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Published Online: Jan 01, 2017


The Nuuchahnulth language of Vancouver Island is a morphologically complex language which makes extensive use of both polysynthesis and incorporation. Furthermore, it exhibits a typologically unusual number system which may best be described as split decimal/ vigesimal. However, the most fascinating aspect of these properties is the complex interaction that takes place when numbers are incorporated into the verb. This paper will examine this interaction and the structures and processes that are involved in its realization. The consequences of this interaction provide us with an example of a complex linguistic system that extends to the limits our conception of language processing and learnability and the models we propose to deal with it.

Keywords: Complex numerals; incorporation; Nuuchahnulth; coordination



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