Aspects of individuation*

Elizabeth Cowper and Daniel Currie Hall

in Count and Mass Across Languages

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199654277
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746048 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Theoretical Linguistics

Aspects of individuation*

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This chapter sheds light on the crosslinguistically robust, but not total, complementarity between plurality and classifiers by proposing a formal representation of plurality and classification as two separate aspects of individuation, the semantic property that characterizes count nouns cross-linguistically. Drawing on data from English, Mandarin, Cantonese, Armenian, Korean, and Persian, the chapter argues that the differences among these languages can be reduced to a small number of differences in a) which features the language makes use of, b) which of those features can project as syntactic heads, and c) the status of non-projecting features as modifiers or head features. Under the proposed analysis, it is not necessary that a language be characterizable, as a whole, as a classifier language or as a plural-marking language. Rather, classifiers and plural marking may coexist in a language as long as only one appears in any given nominal.

Keywords: Armenian; Chinese; classifiers; count; English; features; individuation; Korean; mass; Persian; plural

Chapter.  8544 words. 

Subjects: Semantics

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