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Counting, Measuring And The Semantics Of Classifiers

Author(s): Susan Rothstein

Journal: The Baltic International Yearbook of Cognition, Logic and Communication
ISSN 1944-3676

Volume: 6;
Date: 2010;
Original page

This paper makes two central claims. The first is that there is an intimate and non-trivial relation between the mass/count distinction on the one hand and the measure/individuation distinction on the other: a (if not the) defining property of mass nouns is that they denote sets of entities which can be measured, while count nouns denote sets of entities which can be counted. Crucially, this is a difference in grammatical perspective and not in ontological status. The second claim is that the mass/count distinction between two types of nominals has its direct correlate at the level of classifier phrases: classifier phrases like two bottles of wine are ambiguous between a counting, or individuating, reading and a measure reading. On the counting reading, this phrase has count semantics, on the measure reading it has mass semantics.ReferencesBorer, H. 1999. ‘Deconstructing the construct’. In K. Johnson & I. Roberts (eds.) ‘Beyond Principles and Parameters’, 43–89. Dordrecht: Kluwer publications.Borer, H. 2008. ‘Compounds: the view from Hebrew’. In R. Lieber & P. Stekauer (eds.) ‘The Oxford Handbook of Compounds’, 491–511. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Carlson, G. 1977b. Reference to Kinds in English. Ph.D. thesis, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.Carlson, G. 1997. Quantifiers and Selection. Ph.D. thesis, University of Leiden.Carslon, G. 1977a. ‘Amount relatives’. Language 53: 520–542.Chierchia, G. 2008. ‘Plurality of mass nouns and the notion of ‘semantic parameter”. In S. Rothstein (ed.) ‘Events and Grammar’, 53–103. Dordrecht: Kluwer.Danon, G. 2008. ‘Definiteness spreading in the Hebrew construct state’. Lingua 118: 872–906., B. 1992. ‘Toward a common semantics for English count and mass nouns’. Linguistics and Philosophy 15: 597–640., A. & Landman, F. 1998. ‘Strange relatives of the third kind’. Natural Language Semantics 6: 125–170., I. 1987. ‘Where does the Definiteness Restriction Apply? Evidence from the Definiteness of Variables’. In A. ter Meulen & E. Reuland (eds.) ‘The Linguistic Representation of (In)definiteness’, 21–42. Cambridge: MIT Press.Krifka, M. 1989. ‘Nominal reference, temporal constitution and quantification in event semantics’. In R. Bartsch, J. van Bentham & Peter van Emde Boas (eds.) ‘The Linguistic Representation of (In)definiteness’, 75–155. Dordrecht: Foris.Landman, F. 2003. ‘Predicate-argument mismatches and the Adjectival theory of indefinites’. In M. Coene & Y. d’Hulst (eds.) ‘From NP to DP Volume 1: The Syntax and Semantics of Noun Phrases’, 211–237. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Landman, F. 2004. Indefinites and the Type of Sets. Oxford: Blackwell., G. 1983. ‘The logical analysis of plurals and mass terms: a lattice-theoretic approach’. In Rainer Bäuerle, Urs Egli & Arnim von Stechow (eds.) ‘Meaning, Use and the Interpretation of Language’, 303–323. Berlin: de Gruyter.Partee, B. H. 2010b. ‘Bare ‘milk’ in ‘glass of milk’ in English and Russian’. Handout, Workshop on Bare NPs, Bar-Ilan University.Partee, B. H. & Borschev, V. 2010a. ‘Sortal, relational and functional interpretations of nouns and Russian container constructions’. To appear in Journal of Semantics.Pires de Oliveira, R. & Rothstein, S. 2011. ‘Bare singulars are mass in Brazilian Portuguese’. To appear in Lingua.Ritter, E. 1991. ‘Two functional categories in noun phrases: evidence from Modern Hebrew’. In S. Rothstein (ed.) ‘Perspectives on Phrase Structure’, 37–62. New York: Academic Press. Syntax and Semantics vol 25.Rothstein, S. 2009. ‘Individuating and Measure Readings of Classifier Constructions: Evidence from Modern Hebrew’. Brill Annual of Afroasiatic Languages and Linguistics I: 106–145., S. 2010. ‘Counting and the mass/count distinction’. Journal of Semantics 27, no. 3: 343–397., S. ms. ‘Bare nouns, mass nouns and the universal grinder’. Ms based on talk presented at the Workshop on Bare Nouns, Université Paris VII, November 2009.Selkirk, L. 1977. ‘Some remarks on noun phrase structure’. In P. Culicover, T. Wasow & A. Akmajian (eds.) ‘Formal Syntax’, 285–316. New York: Academic Press.Shlonsky, U. 2004. ‘The form of Semitic nominals’. Lingua 114.12: 1465–1526.
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