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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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Decomposing the mass/count distinction: Evidence from languages that lack it *

Decomposing the mass/count distinction: Evidence from languages that lack it *

(p.146) 9 Decomposing the mass/count distinction: Evidence from languages that lack it*
Count and Mass Across Languages

Martina Wiltschko

Oxford University Press

This chapter establishes that not all languages have a grammaticized mass/count distinction and consequently we have to distinguish between ontological properties associated with nouns and categorical properties associated with a functional category dominating these nouns. It is argued that the categorical properties associated with the mass/count distinction are tied to a functional category identified as nominal inner aspect. This category can host the feature responsible for the mass/count distinction (i.e, [± bounded]). It is further shown that languages lacking a categorical mass/count distinction come in at least two varieties. They can lack the functional category which may host the [±bounded] feature (Halkomelem). Alternatively, they can associated a different feature with inner aspect. In particular, it is shown that in Blackfoot [±animate] associates with inner aspect. Consequently, in this language, it is animacy, rather than mass/count which serves as the nominal classification device.

Keywords:   Blackfoot, Halkomelem, German, English, inner aspect, boundedness, animacy, countability, number, numerals, language variation, functional category, nominal classification, ontological properties, categorical properties, gender

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