Grammatical number and the scale of individuation

Grammatical number and the scale of individuation <p>Abstract:</p><p>A central debate in the literature on grammatical number systems and nominal semantics is whether the countable/noncountable contrast is ontologically based or ultimately arbitrary. This article examines this question in light of several languages that express three or more categories of grammatical number, in particular including a collective category containing nouns of an intermediate status between prototypical countable nouns and prototypical noncountable nouns. I connect this crosslinguistic data to psycholinguistic research on individuation, identifying several individuation types, that is, noun meanings organized into equivalence classes based on shared individuation properties. The individuation types themselves can be ordered, giving rise to a scale of individuation. I propose that the organization of grammatical number systems reflects the scale of individuation, effectively steering a middle course between ontological and grammatical accounts. This approach accounts for a range of grammatical number systems and makes broad predictions bearing on what possible grammatical number systems are.*</p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Language Linguistic Society of America

Grammatical number and the scale of individuation

Language, Volume 94 (3) – Sep 12, 2018

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Publisher
Linguistic Society of America
Copyright
Copyright © Linguistic Society of America.
ISSN
1535-0665

Abstract

<p>Abstract:</p><p>A central debate in the literature on grammatical number systems and nominal semantics is whether the countable/noncountable contrast is ontologically based or ultimately arbitrary. This article examines this question in light of several languages that express three or more categories of grammatical number, in particular including a collective category containing nouns of an intermediate status between prototypical countable nouns and prototypical noncountable nouns. I connect this crosslinguistic data to psycholinguistic research on individuation, identifying several individuation types, that is, noun meanings organized into equivalence classes based on shared individuation properties. The individuation types themselves can be ordered, giving rise to a scale of individuation. I propose that the organization of grammatical number systems reflects the scale of individuation, effectively steering a middle course between ontological and grammatical accounts. This approach accounts for a range of grammatical number systems and makes broad predictions bearing on what possible grammatical number systems are.*</p>

Journal

LanguageLinguistic Society of America

Published: Sep 12, 2018

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