Volume 39, Issue 2
  • ISSN 0378-4169
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9927
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes


This paper studies why, for a plurality of discrete entities, a non-count plural might be preferred over a count noun or a non-count singular. Building partly on Wierzbicka (1985 , 1988 ), it proposes two parameters: semantics, but also morphology. With lexical plurals, the items are construed as being of different kinds (vs. count nouns) and the focus is on the plurality of items rather than on a common purpose (vs. non-count singulars). For morphology, the notion of ‘attractor’ is proposed for some patterns which partly motivate the [±count] and number features. A collateral finding is that the plural of lexical plurals can be unstable: some nouns ending with -s undergo reanalysis as morphological plurals, while Latin plurals tend to be reanalysed as singulars. It is suggested that this trend confirms the semantic values of singular and plural numbers, as well as the influence of the morphological parameter on number and construal.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Acquaviva, P
    (2004) Plural mass nouns and the compositionality of number. Verbum, 26 (4), 387–401.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. (2008) Lexical plurals: A morphosemantic approach. Studies in Thoretical Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford UP.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Allan, K
    (1980) Nouns and Countability. Language56, 541–567. doi: 10.2307/414449
    https://doi.org/10.2307/414449 [Google Scholar]
  4. Bradley, E
    (2015) Antiques and collectibles 2016 price guide. 32nd edition. Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Brownell, D. Jr
    (2010) Antiques and collectibles 2011 price guide. 27th edition. Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Clarke, H
    (1859) A grammar of the English tongue, spoken and written, for self-teaching and for schools. London: John Weale.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Davies, Mark
    (2008-) The Corpus of Contemporary American English: 520 million words, 1990-present. Available online atcorpus.byu.edu/coca/.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Debenham’s website. Debenham’s Retail plc
    2011–2016 < www.debenhams.com/> (accessed2016)
  9. Doggett, R. , O’Farrell, M. K. , & Watson, A. L
    (1980) Forecasts of the quantity and composition of solid waste. Research Reporting Series. Cincinnati, Ohio: United States Environmental Protection Agency.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Frege, G
    (1950) The Foundations of Arithmetic. Evanston: Northwestern University Press. Translated by J. L. Austin ; first published in 1884 as Die Grundlagen der Arithmetik (Breslau: W. Köbner).
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Graf, J. F
    (2006) Warman’s Civil War collectibles: Identification and price guide. 2nd edition. Iola, Wisconsin: Iola.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Huddleston, R. , & Pullum, G. K
    (2002) The Cambridge grammar of the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Jackendoff, R
    (1991) Parts and boundaries. In B. Levin , & S. Pinker (Eds.), Lexical and conceptual semantics (pp. 9–45). Cambridge: Blackwell.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Lauwers, P
    (2014) Les pluriels ‘lexicaux’. Typologie quantifiée des déficits de dénombrabilité. Langue française, 183, 117–132. doi: 10.3917/lf.183.0117
    https://doi.org/10.3917/lf.183.0117 [Google Scholar]
  15. Maloney, D. J. Jr
    (2003) Maloney’s antiques and collectibles resource directory. 7th edition. Fairfield, Ohio: Antique Trader.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. McNally, L
    (1993) Comitative coordination: a case study in group formation. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, 11, 347–379. doi: 10.1007/BF00992917
    https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00992917 [Google Scholar]
  17. Moran, M. F
    (2011) Warman’s antiques & collectibles 2012. 45th edition. Iola, WI: F+W Media.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Murphy, M. L
    (2010) Lexical meaning. Cambridge: Cambridge UP. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511780684
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511780684 [Google Scholar]
  19. Oxford English Dictionary Online (2016) Oxford UP.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Stolz, C
    (2009) A different kind of gender problem: Maltese loanword gender from a typological perspective. In B. Comrie , et al (Eds.), Introducing Maltese Linguistics (pp. 321–354). Amsterdam: John Benjamin. doi: 10.1075/slcs.113.22sto
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.113.22sto [Google Scholar]
  21. Ungerer, F. , & Schmid, H.-J
    (1996) An introduction to cognitive linguistics. Harlow: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Wierzbicka, A
    (1985) ‘Oats’ and ‘wheat’: the fallacy of arbitrariness. In J. Haiman (Ed.), Iconicity in syntax (pp. 311–342). Amsterdam: John Benjamin. doi: 10.1075/tsl.6.16wie
    https://doi.org/10.1075/tsl.6.16wie [Google Scholar]
  23. (1988) The Semantics of Grammar. Amsterdam: John Benjamin. doi: 10.1075/slcs.18
    https://doi.org/10.1075/slcs.18 [Google Scholar]
  24. Wilmshurst, J. , & Mackay A
    (2002) The fundamentals and practice of marketing. 4th edition. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Zhang, N.N
    (2009) Coordination in syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511770746
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511770746 [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error