1887
Volume 39, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4169
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9927
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Abstract

Mass superordinates such as and form a distinct and peculiar class of nouns in languages with an obligatory singular/plural distinction. These nouns often have variants as well as count equivalents – both within one linguistic system as well as cross-linguistically. This study is a follow-up of my earlier analysis of Romance superordinates ( Mihatsch, 2006 ). The data are taken from English, German, French and Spanish in order to demonstrate the striking cross-linguistic pattern. The highly variable Spanish ‘clothing/clothes’ is analysed in greater detail. I argue that in most cases the apparently unsystematic synchronic variants arise from partly unidirectional diachronic changes, namely a lexicalisation process leading from collective nouns to object mass nouns, often followed by the appearance of plural forms, which oscillate between a lexical and an inflectional plural.

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2017-03-20
2019-10-23
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): collective nouns , inflectional plural , lexical plural , lexicalisation and object mass nouns
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