Linguistic Variation Yearbook 2004
  • ISSN 1568-1483
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9900
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DPs and BNs are used parametrically in Arabic (as well as in other languages) to express generic/existential contrasts, and mass/count oppositions. Unlike English and Romance, Arabic BNs behave like overt indefinites, give rise to bare singulars, and to numeral BNs, obviating scope or opacity distinctions between bare singulars, duals, or plurals. These numerous BN varieties are accounted for via various N-to-F computational processes, involving namely Numeral and Generic positions. Second, indefinite and definite generic types also make use of covert/overt D oppositions, yet they are subjected to a unifying treatment. Third, the mass/count dichotomy cannot provide an adequate base for a classificatory system. ‘Atomicity’ and ‘singulativity’ values are needed to characterize more appropriately Classifier and Number interactions in so-called ‘classifier’ and ‘number’ language types. ‘Inner’ atomicity (associated with Classifier) and ‘outer’ atomicity (provided by Number) can be properly identified, making it possible to avoid confusion of Classifier and Number contributions to structure and interpretation (e.g. the kind/generic confusion). Finally, the referential/quantificational split, usually expressed through the BN/DP opposition, finds its counterpart in proper noun (PN) and common noun distributions.


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