Cantonese uses over five times more sortal classifiers (,extended object' tiuh 条) than Mandarin to describe Chafe's 'Pear Stories' film. Forty percent of nouns appear without a classifier. Just 18% of Cantonese nouns and 3% of Mandarin take a sortal. Stories are near-identical. Classifiers reveal differences in grammar, not cognition.
Mary S. Erbaugh and Bei Yang
An intriguing feature of the Shanghai Wu dialect c1assifier system is that it possesses two general c1assifiers: 个/gə?1 and 只/tsə?5. In this article, we set out to tease apart the differences in their frequency and usage and to consider the larger question of general versus sortal c1assifiers in three Sinitic languages, namely Mandarin, Cantonese and Shanghainese. It is shown that 只/tsə?5/ acts less like a general c1assifier than does 个/gə?1 according to the three main parameters used, and that Shanghainese and Cantonese make greater use of sortal c1assifiers than does Mandarin.