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<i>&#8220;C&#8217;est de la bombe!&#8221;</i>

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Abstract

In this paper, I propose a Construction Grammar approach to the count/mass distinction in French. Rather than confine my analysis to NPs, I examine the effects of mass conversion in the broader context of two partially-filled idiomatic constructions: the CCDN construction (<i>&#231;a c&#8217;est de la voiture!</i> &#8216;that&#8217;s some car&#8217;) and the CDN construction (<i>cette voiture, c&#8217;est de la bombe!</i> &#8216;that car rocks!&#8217;). Both inherit properties from the Copular Subject Predicate construction (<i>c&#8217;est une voiture</i> &#8216;that&#8217;s a car&#8221;), except their nominal predicates undergo count-to-mass conversion. Generally, count-to-mass conversion has a quantitative function: it turns NPs whose referents are numerically quantifiable into an NP whose referents cannot be quantified as separate entities. In the CCDN and the CDN, count-to-mass conversion has a qualitative function: it predicates a quality of the subject by identifying this subject with the prototype of the category denoted by the nominal predicate. I show that the CCDN and the CDN belong to the same constructional network, even if they differ as to the kinds of identification that they realize.

References

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