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Christophe Grandsire wrote:

>En réponse à David Peterson <[log in to unmask]>:
>>     Rivers would have gone into the "non-living, indestructible" class,
>> and
>> roads into the "can't lift" class.  I thought about what you were
>> saying,
>> though--like the Japanese classifier "han" (I still don't understand how
>> that
>> works in Japanese.  It doesn't have noun classes, does it?).
>
>Not really. Japanese uses the classifiers only with numerals (and I think
with
>the interrogative when asking "how many/much?"). Also, the classifiers
apply
>only to some words (referring to objects with certain properties of
flatness,
>length, circular shape, etc...), while all the others are conflated into
>a "everything else" class which is much more important than all the other
>classes together. This is in my opinion the only reason why it cannot be
called
>a class system.
>
Indonesian and its relatives also has classifiers; usage similar to what you
say for Japanese. Huge lists of them in the older grammars-- though it seems
they're not much used in modern speech. They're generally fairly logical:

rambut (hair) for hair like things (but Makassarese lísere? 'seed' here)
ekor (tail) for animals  (this varies in other langs; Buginese e.g. uses aju
'wood' for buffaloes, but something else for other animals like chickens and
dogs.)
potong (cut) for slices of things
buah (fruit) for smallish round things; it's also the catchall class now-- 2
buah rumah '2 houses'
there's also one for paper and other sheet-like things (lembar?), not
sure....