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Auteur: Sarah OUWAYDA

Mass Plurals, Neither Mass Nor Plural

Abstract/Résumé: I present novel Lebanese Arabic (LA) Mass Plural data, supporting a view that the mass-count distinction is structural, not a lexical property (e.g. Borer 2005). LA Mass Plurals, I argue, while not denoting a plural in the sense of 'more than one', are count. LA Feminine plural-marking (-eet) occurs on mass nouns, triggers plural-agreement, but specifically does not produce an interpretation of 'more-than-one' (1). 1. I ate one spoonful of oil, nothing else: akal-t zayt-eet tayyb-iin ate-1s oil-pl tasty-pl True/Informative Because LA Mass Plurals behave unlike other plurals, Acquaviva (2008) proposes the mass-count distinction is non-binary. Tsoulas (2006), for Greek Mass Plural, proposes this plural-marking on mass is redundant, and Alexiadou (2010) proposes it is lexical/idiosyncratic. I claim that (i) the 'plural' marking -eet in LA Mass Plurals is a classifier/count morpheme, and (ii) that despite its plural appearance, -eet in these cases is in fact a singular/atomic classifier. Evidence for these claims comes from the fact that LA Mass Plurals, unlike typical plurals, induce telicity, imply totality and cannot follow quantifiers. Specifically, assuming Borer’s (2005) DP structure (2), I propose -eet instantiates the count structure Div, and I follow her proposal that atomic interpretation results when the same morpheme instantiates both Div and Q (3). 2. [DP [QP [DivP -eet [NP zayt ]]]] 3. [DP [QP a [DivP a [NP cat ]]]] [DP [QP -eet [DivP -eet [NP zayt ]]]] While -eet instantiates Q, I propose it does not itself contain quantity information, which it must inherit from a discourse antecedent. Consequently, LA Mass Plurals, definite or indefinite, are available only with specific DP denotation: In fact, they must scope over intentional operators (Ionin 2007). Indeed, LA-MassPlurals require licensing by definite determiners or restrictive modifiers, which facilitates specificity. Also showing LA-MassPlurals are count but do not entail a more-than-one interpretation, as it turns out, in comparisons, LA Mass Plurals parallel Mandarin classified nouns, yielding an interpretation whereby volumes or amounts are compared. They do not parallel English plurals, which typically yield an interpretation where the number of elements is compared. The plural marking involved in the LA MassPlural, I conclude, is neither vacuous nor makes unusual contributions. Rather, it contributes countness without multi-atomicity.