A noun in any given language may have a grammatical number, such as singular ("one cat"), plural ("several cats"), and collective or mass ("any amount of rice"). Not all languages have the same set of available grammatical numbers, however. Some languages have dual nouns which distinguish exactly two from exactly one, or more than two. Tok Pisin even has a trial grammatical number, distinguishing three of a noun. Some languages use a distinct number to represent the absence of a noun, or exactly zero of that noun. Some, such as Welsh, treat the collective number as the default or lemma version of the noun, while using a "singulative" number as the inflected form, e.g. plant "children" is lemma, while plentyn "child" is inflected.

The paucal grammatical number refers to an indeterminate but small number of a noun, "just a few" as opposed to "many." Typically paucal nouns will be between four and ten in number, with fewer than four having a different number, and more than ten using a collective number of some kind. Kurdish has the paucal grammatical number as one of its normal features for virtually all nouns. Russian has it for some grammatical cases, but not others. Arabic has it for some specific nouns, but not others.

Iron Noder 2017, 8/30

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