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Count and Mass Across Languages$
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Diane Massam

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199654277

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199654277.001.0001

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Aspects of individuation *

Aspects of individuation *

(p.27) 3 Aspects of individuation*
Count and Mass Across Languages

Elizabeth Cowper

Daniel Currie Hall

Oxford University Press

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

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