Towards a common semantics for English count and mass nouns

Linguistics and Philosophy 15 (6):597 - 639 (1992)
English mass noun phrases & count noun phrases differ only minimally grammatically. The basis for the difference is ascribed to a difference in the features +/-CT. These features serve the morphosyntactic function of determining the available options for the assigment of grammatical number, itself determined by the features +/-PL: +CT places no restriction on the available options, while -CT, in the unmarked case, restricts the available options to -PL. They also serve the semantic function of determining the sort of denotation associated with demonstrative & quantified noun phrases. The feature -CT requires that the associated denotation be the set whose sole member is the greatest aggregate of which the noun phrase or noun is true; the feature +CT requires that the associated denotation be the set whose members are all & only those minimal aggregates of which the noun phrase or noun is true. At the same time, neither mass NPs nor count NPs that are arguments of a predicate have their predicate evaluated with respect to their denotations. Rather, the predicate is evaluated with respect to an aggregation, a set of aggregates constructed from the denotation of the noun phrase that is an argument of the predicate. 3 Tables, 4 Figures, 74 References. AA
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DOI 10.1007/BF00628112
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David Nicolas (2008). Mass Nouns and Plural Logic. Linguistics and Philosophy 31 (2):211-244.

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