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On 8/28/07, Eric Christopherson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Ah, I remembered it! Actually, in the case I was thinking of, the
> bare plural seems to refer to two, not three. Revelation 12:14 has "a
> time, and *times*, and half a time" (emphasis added), which Wikipedia
> ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_%28archangel%29 ) says means
> "three and a half years". I.e. "times" without a specific number is
> taken to mean "two times". I'm no Biblical scholar, so I don't know
> how reasonable that is -- and it occurs to me that maybe the original
> Greek used the dual instead of the plural.

No -- in fact, I don't think the dual is used anywhere in the NT (nor,
for that matter, when it more-or-less died out, but it was quite a
while ago TTBOMK). The text I have reads καιρόν και καιρούς και ήμισυ
καιρού, with plain plural. (And, interestingly for me, "half of a
time" at the end, i.e. noun + noun.gen, rather than Modern Greek "a
half time" with adj + noun.)



On 8/28/07, Eric Christopherson <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> Are there any (other) natlangs which have "conflate" trial and plural
> -- which have a grammatical number which isn't quite trial and isn't
> quite plural -- i.e. where words marked with that number are assumed
> to refer to three things, unless specifically quantified? Further, do
> any natlangs conflate *dual* and plural in that way?

I wonder whether Maltese duals count.

As I understand it, the dual number is not productive, so the set of
nouns which have a dual form is a closed one. Furthermore, for some of
those nouns, the dual is also the plural -- so e.g. "saqajn" by itself
means "two legs", but you'd say that a dog has "erba' saqajn" (four
legs.DU).

But that's not a wholescale conflating of dual and plural (i.e. not
all duals refer to two if alone but to more than two if explicitly
quantified); again, TTBOMK, there are others which have all three of
singular, dual, and plural forms, and where the plural (not the dual)
forms are used with numbers from 3-10. (Higher numbers, in general,
take the singular anyway.)

An interesting case is għajn "eye; spring, well, fountain": it forms
the two "plurals" għajnejn "eyes" (a dual, but also used as plural
with numbers higher than two) and għejun "springs, wells, fountains"
(an internal plural).

Cheers,
-- 
Philip Newton <[log in to unmask]>