Plural mass nouns and the compositionality of number

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Show simple item record Acquaviva, Paolo 2012-11-08T14:57:42Z 2012-11-08T14:57:42Z 2004 Editions Universitaires de Lorraine en 2004
dc.identifier.citation Verbum en
dc.identifier.issn 01825887
dc.description.abstract It is true that, as is well known since Allan (1980), mass and count are best seen as preferences rather than absolute values for lexical items; for instance, clothes cannot be governed by a numeral, but it tolerates the count quantifier a few. Even so, the existence of plurals that, at the very least, share some properties with mass nouns, raises questions about the chain of reasoning I have sketched out above. In fact, the assumption that plural nouns must refer to collections of individuals is simply wrong, even in languages where the number category would appear to correlate straightforwardly with the contrast between one and more than one. My first goal here will be to substantiate this empirical claim (section 2). Secondly, I will address in section 3 a theoretical question that cannot even be posed, let alone answered, without realizing that plural nouns can be non-count: the relation between semantic and morphological structure in mass plurals, whose interpretation does not seem to accord with the interpretation of the plural affix. How can a noun modified by this affix fail to denote non-singleton sets and still retain a compositional interpretation? The answer is that mass plurals are indeed semantically plural, but they refer to manifold complexes of non-individual parts. The familiar onemany contrast of book vs. books is not a primitive, defining trait of plurality, but a consequence of the semantics of the noun and of the way plurality combines with it. Variation along either of these two dimensions can bring about different readings—which are the empirical concern of this paper. en
dc.description.sponsorship Not applicable en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.publisher Presses Universitaires de Nancy en
dc.relation.requires Humanities Institute of Ireland Research Collection en
dc.relation.requires Irish, Celtic Studies, Irish Folklore & Linguistics Research Collection en
dc.subject Countability en
dc.subject Plural en
dc.subject Number en
dc.subject Compositionality en
dc.subject.lcsh Grammar, Comparative and general--Number en
dc.subject.lcsh Grammar, Comparative and general--Mass nouns en
dc.subject.lcsh Compositionality (Linguistics) en
dc.title Plural mass nouns and the compositionality of number en
dc.type Journal Article en
dc.internal.availability Full text available en
dc.status Peer reviewed en
dc.identifier.volume 26 en
dc.identifier.issue 4 en
dc.identifier.startpage 387 en
dc.identifier.endpage 401 en
dc.neeo.contributor Acquaviva|Paolo|aut|
dc.description.admin DG 07/11/2012 en

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