Predicting object mass nouns across languages

Kurt Erbach

Abstract


The hypothesis explored in this paper is that the amount of object mass nouns (e.g., furniture, jewelry) in a given language is related to the amount of morphosyntax that indicates the countability of nouns (e.g., many, much) in that language. This hypothesis, together with the analysis of Sutton & Filip (2016) best captures the occurrence of object mass nouns across languages. The analysis of Sutton & Filip (2016) accurately predicts which class of nouns will have object mass nouns across languages—collective artifacts—and the novel hypothesis provides a means of predicting the amount of object mass nouns in a given language: languages with many morphosyntactic reflexes of the mass/count distinction will likewise have many object mass nouns—e.g. English—and languages with few morphosyntactic reflexes of the mass/count distinction will likewise have few object mass nouns—e.g., Greek, Hungarian, and Japanese.

Keywords


mass; count; countability; English; Greek; Hungarian; Japanese

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.3765/plsa.v5i1.4698

Copyright (c) 2020 Kurt Erbach

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