Plurality as a Phi-Feature in Non-Inflectional Plurals

Some languages, such as Pirahã, express plurality through means other than plural inflectional morphology. Wiltschko (2008) calls these alternative plural marking strategies non-inflectional plurals and develops several diagnostic criteria for determining whether or not a language is an inflectional plural-marking language, illustrated with examples from English (an inflectional plural-marking language) Halkomelem (a non-inflectional plural language). These criteria pertain to obligatoriness, agreement, compounding, and derivational morphology. This paper expands on these criteria, drawing two more from Greenberg’s (1963) Universals, to answer the following research question: Do non-inflectional plurals possess a plural phi-feature? This paper explores this question by looking at certain properties of Khmer and Thai, two languages which appear to have non-inflectional plurals, to look for any evidence of the presence of phi-features in their respective plural-marking strategies.
Linguistics, syntax, morphology, inflection, derivation, plural, phi-features, Thai, Khmer