Plural marking beyond count nouns*

Saeed Ghaniabadi

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

Plural marking beyond count nouns*

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Plural marking on mass nouns in languages like English and Persian is assumed to be allowed only when the interpretation of the mass noun is subject to coercion — i.e. count reading of mass nouns. As such, plural marking serves the purpose of portioning out the undivided stuff into conventionalized units. This chapter presents facts establishing that plural marking on mass nouns in Persian, in addition to its portioning-out function, can induce definiteness. The chapter proposes that the definiteness interpretation triggered by plural morphology arises from the syntax of plural marking in Persian. Based on the descriptive generalizations made in this chapter, a Distributed-Morphology based analysis is proposed of number marking in Persian and how it interfaces with definiteness marking. I argue that number morphology in the context of definite noun phrases is syncretic in the sense that it realizes both a definiteness feature [+def] and a number feature [±pl].

Keywords: definiteness; number; syncretism; coercion; mass; count; plural; persian

Chapter.  5226 words. 

Subjects: Semantics

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