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人 counter (word order, absence of の)

Davide92

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Hello everybody! I found the following sentence in my textbook (a):

(a) その会社は千人労働者を雇っている。

Based on what I know about counters, I expected either (a1) その会社は千人の労働者を雇っている or (a2) その会社は労働者を千人雇っている.

I have a similar (?) problem with another sentence from my grammar book: (b) : 今朝大学で友達二人に会いました。 Here、I expected (b1) 今朝大学で二人の友達に会いました.

I ruled out (b2) 今朝大学で友達に二人会いました based on what the book itself has to say about (b): sometimes, in the presence of such particles as に, で and から, one should not postpone the quantity+counter chunk to the noun+particle chunk. I still find (b) confusing because of its word order: noun -> quantity+counter chunk -> particle.

Am I missing something here? Thanks!
 

Toritoribe

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There are 4 ways to say it.

1. 労働者を千人雇っている (= a2/b2)
2. 労働者千人を雇っている (= b)
3. 千人の労働者を雇っている (= a1/b1)
4. 千人労働者を雇っている (= a)

#1 is the most common, but this order can be used only with the particles を and が.
#2 can be used with other particles such like に, で or から, but this is mostly used in written language, so it sounds a bit stiff in conversations.
#3 is also common and can be used with all particles, but #1 is more natural for を and が.
#4 can be used only with the particles を and が, too. In spoken language, a pause is usually put between the counter and the noun (= 人 and 労働者), so it's actually 千人、労働者を雇っている.

As you can see, only b2 is invalid in your examples. This is equivalent to "noun+particle chunk(友達に) -> quantity+counter chunk(二人)" in your textbook's explanation, as you understand correctly. B is OK since it's "noun(友達) -> quantity+counter chunk(二人) -> particle(に)", not "noun+particle chunk -> quantity+counter chunk".
 

Davide92

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Ah I see, now it makes perfect sense. Thanks a lot Toritoribe-san! I suppose these four patterns apply to counters in general, not just 人?
 

Toritoribe

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Basically, yes. However, there are some cases you need to pay attention, where the meaning changes depending on the word order. See the examples below.

1. 本を100ページ読んだ
2. 本100ページを読んだ
3. 100ページの本を読んだ
4. 100ページ、本を読んだ

#1, 2 and 4 are the same in meaning, "I read 100 pages of a book", whereas #3 means "I read a book with 100 pages". Thus, 100ページ shows the total pages of the book, not the pages the subject read.

1. マグロを50kg釣った
2. マグロ50kgを釣った
3. 50kgのマグロを釣った
4. 50kg、マグロを釣った

It's the same also here. 50kg is the total amount weight of tuna fishes the subject caught in #1, 2 and 4. On the other hand, #3 means "I caught a 50kg tuna fish". The weight of the single tuna fish is 50kg.

In these #3 cases, 100ページの and 50kgの are "characteristics" of the modified noun, not simply the quantity of it.
 
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