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On the Conceptual Role of Number

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Abstract

Bouchard (2002) proposes that the syntactic position of number — on N or D — affects three aspects of nominal syntax: adjective-order, nounomission and Bare Argument Nominals (BAN). This paper shows that number position incorrectly predicts these nominal properties in some languages, i.e. the French-based Creoles, and argues that better results obtain if the conceptual role of number is taken into account. Number interacts with two distinct processes in language: <i>Quantization </i>and <i>Individuation</i>. Number position matters only for languages with <i>Number Individuation</i>. Accordingly, not all languages that mark number primarily on D have equivalent properties and some are correctly predicted to freely allow BAN. The current paper has three parts. First Bouchard’s proposal, its empirical shortcomings, and the syntax of Haitian Creole (HC) number are discussed. Second, the conceptual role of number is outlined. Third, the author’s proposal is shown to predict the syntactic properties Bouchard noted and to remedy the shortcomings.

References

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