Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

Rumantsch Grischun is Mirror Maltese!

I was just reading the German Wikipedia article on Grammar of Rumantsch Grischun when I came across the section on "collective plurals", in which it says:

Ein typisch rätoromanisches Phänomen ist der Kollektivplural. Er tritt auf bei männlichen Substantiven, die häufig im Plural vorkommen. Er verhält sich wie ein feminines Substantiv im Singular.

  • il mail -> der Apfel
  • ils mails -> die Äpfel (zählbar, nach Mengenangaben)
  • la maila -> die Äpfel (nicht zählbar, allgemein)

That is, some masculine nouns form a regular (masculine) plural but also a collective plural (called "a typically Rhaeto-Romance phænomenon" here) which looks like a singular feminine noun.

Which is (as regards the grammatical genders) pretty much the opposite of what happens in Maltese, as I understand it: the examples there would be:

  • it-tuffieħa (fem.) -> the apple
  • it-tuffieħiet ( -> the apples (e.g. counted plural, after numbers: 3 tuffieħiet)
  • it-tuffieħ (masc.) -> the apples (not specifically counted; apples in general)

Similarly with ħobż "bread (as a material)", ħobża "a (loaf of) bread"; ġobon "cheese", ġobna "a cheese"; ward "roses", warda "a rose"; etc.

Tags: languages, maltese, romansh
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