By Manfred Krifka, Austinlsaarbriicken
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Extra info for A Compositional Semantics for Multiple Focus
The second point is that the details of this encoding vary enormously across languages. 3) above) to an unambiguous plural, or to a singular, often to plural and to singular. Notice that a language may lack an obligatory number opposition in nouns while having it in pronouns, or verbs, as is often the case in North American languages (see Mithun 1999: 79–87). The singular, especially when it is formally unmarked, often serves simultaneously as a morphological category contrasting with plural (or other number values) and as general number; cf.
This is far from self-evident (I will take up the issue in detail in Chapter 4). Since the same uncertainty surrounds mass plurals of count singulars (dream dreams), the plurals for which the status of plurale tantum is uncertain make up a sizeable group. Hence, the boundaries of the class of pluralia tantum are signiWcantly blurred, and for principled reasons. Finally, it is often unclear whether the lack of singular is a grammatical fact at all. From a theoretical viewpoint there is a sharp diVerence between a noun being inherently plural as a fact of internalized grammar, and a noun being perfectly regular but having a negligible token frequency as singular.
Dutch, in which -en and -s are both widespread plural suYxes, has more examples. 13) hemelen ‘heavens’ hemels ‘canopies’ (Dutch) hersenen ‘brains’ (as organ or food) hersens ‘brains’ (as food) letteren ‘literature’ letters ‘letters’ (of the alphabet) middelen ‘means’ middels ‘waists’ tafelen ‘tablets’ (of the law) tafels ‘tables’ (for food) vaderen ‘forefathers’ vaders ‘fathers’ wateren ‘waterways’ waters ‘waters’ wortelen ‘carrots’ wortels ‘roots’12 Phonologically, the suYx expected after the endings -el, -en, and -er is -s.
A Compositional Semantics for Multiple Focus by Manfred Krifka, Austinlsaarbriicken