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Author: R.M.W. Dixon
Many works on linguistic typology deal in some detail with one or more particular grammatical topics without clearly demonstrating how these relate to other categories or construction types. The Essence of Linguistic Analysis by R. M. W. Dixon presents a framework which connects individual topics in a cogent and coherent way, showing their dependencies and locating each in its place within the overall tapestry of a language.
A clear distinction is made between semantic roles and syntactic functions. And it is held that the basic constituents of a language are lexical elements. Grammatical items serve to link together lexical units. At every level of analysis, the central units are lexical with grammar providing ancillary indicators.
Volume Editor: Tabea Ihsane
This volume edited by Tabea Ihsane focuses on different aspects of the distribution, semantics, and internal structure of nominal constituents with a “partitive article” in its indefinite interpretation and of potentially corresponding bare nouns. It further deals with diachronic issues, such as grammaticalization and evolution in the use of “partitive articles”.
The outcome is a snapshot of current research into “partitive articles” and the way they relate to bare nouns, in a cross-linguistic perspective and on new data: the research covers noteworthy data (fieldwork data and corpora) from Standard languages - like French and Italian, but also German - to dialectal and regional varieties, including endangered ones like Francoprovençal.
Author: Hagay Schurr

Abstract

The distribution of “partitive articles” and bare nouns can be explained on formal grounds (Stark 2016) or on functional grounds in a usage-based approach that combines diachronic data with constraints and biases in language change. In this paper, I approach the bare/partitive distinction as part of a grammatical subsystem of prominence-conditioned classification, including also Differential Object Marking (Bossong 1982; Körner 1981) and certain clitic patterns. Using a family-level synchronic typology and a diachronic corpus study of their grammaticalization in Medieval Spanish and French, I propose that early variation in the frequency of clitics attests to ongoing grammaticalization processes, some of which concern prominence-conditioned patterns in the history of Romance languages. This differentiation, in turn, may have contributed to the current distribution of bare and partitive-marked noun phrases as similar differentiation processes shift from the Romance clitic systems to adnominal marking of free (pro)nouns.

In: Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article
In: Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article

Abstract

French indefinites headed by des/de la/du are the closest counterparts of English bare plurals (BPs) and bare mass NPs (BMNs). This led theoreticians to propose that the two types of expressions should be given a similar semantic analysis (Bosveld-de Smet 1998; Dobrovie-Sorin and Beyssade 2004; a.o.). There is, however, an important difference when it comes to narrow scope with regard to negation, which, in the general case, bans des/de la/du and requires the invariable de. This clearly contrasts with BPs and BMNs, as well as with “bare singulars” (BSs), which are all necessarily narrow-scoped. I will argue that all bare nouns (BNs) can be analyzed as lacking some functional layers and, correlatively, be property-denoting expressions that can combine with the main predicate via Predicate Modification. BNs are therefore insensitive to negation. The French des/de la/du indefinites, on the other hand, will be argued to be unable to denote properties when they occur in canonical argument positions and therefore unable to form a complex predicate with the verb. Argumental des/de la/du indefinites will be analyzed as weak existential quantifiers, which will allow me to explain their resistance to negation.

In: Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article

Abstract

This paper presents new data on so-called “partitive articles” in a broad sense in the Aosta Valley variety of Francoprovençal, a non-standardized Gallo-Romance minority language spoken by few speakers in South-Eastern France, the Swiss canton of Valais and the Aosta Valley in Italy. The data result from a fieldwork trip in May 2017 and show a highly grammaticalized invariable de-element in front of indefinite mass singular and plural nominals in argument position, also after quantifiers and under the scope of negation. Despite striking distributive similarities to the Standard French “partitive article” rather than the Standard Italian “partitive article”, some important differences seem to exist, most importantly an overall ban on preverbal subjects introduced by de, which might have to do with extremely reduced nominal morphology (no systematic overt number and gender marking on nouns plus no inflectional information on the de-element). Other differences, also with respect to the scarce specialized literature available, such as the attestation of fully-fledged “partitive articles” in our data (contra Kristol 2014), and their preservation under the scope of negation still need further study.

In: Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article

Abstract

This paper explores some properties of so-called pancake sentences in Brazilian Portuguese and French. Pancake sentences are copular sentences built with a (postcopular) adjective, but differ from run-of-the-mill copular sentences in two respects: (i) the nominal expression in the subject position, which is individual-denoting in its literal meaning, is reinterpreted as an event type involving the original referent; (ii) there is agreement mismatch between this nominal expression in subject position and the adjective. Following Greenberg (2008), we propose that in Brazilian Portuguese and in French, it is the agreement feature mismatch which triggers the reinterpretation mechanism of the nominal expression, which stands for a non-overt semantic structure. However, the exact output of the reinterpretation mechanism (and the meaning of the covert semantic structure the nominal expression stands for) depends on the building blocks of a non-agreeing copular sentence, which are different in the two languages under discussion. These differences explain why French non-agreeing copular sentences may have more than one meaning and are thus not necessarily pancake sentences. We also observe that in general, only predicates of personal taste are licensed in pancake sentences in the languages under discussion, which we also account for.

In: Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article
Author: Giuliana Giusti

Abstract

This paper focuses on weak indefinite nominals in Italian and Italo-Romance varieties. It presents the rich variation found across Italo-Romance in a pan-Romance perspective and claims that Italo-Romance displays a robust use of the definite article with indefinite interpretation unlike many other Romance varieties. The paper provides an overview of different semantic and syntactic contexts in which indefiniteness can be detected and distinguished from reference to kind, which is also expressed by the definite article in all Romance languages. The paper then provides diagnostics to capture the dimensions of variation and optionality among five different indefinite determiners: the so-called “partitive article”, the apparent definite article, the bare preposition di, the zero article of bare nouns, and the grammaticalized adjective “certain”. The diagnostics are structured in a “protocol” fashion, that is, a metatheoretical way to structure research questions, design a questionnaire, present and analyze empirical results, abstracting from theory-internal issues. A pilot running of the questionnaire on informal Italian and dialectal data will be presented and analyzed. The results enable us to give a preliminary answer to two general research questions: What is the distribution of the indefinite determiners in modern Italian dialects in contact with Standard Italian? What is the distribution of indefinite determiners in regional varieties of modern Italian in contact with the local dialects?

In: Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article

Abstract

This paper aims at a comparative analysis of “partitive markers” in the Germanic noun phrase, both in a diachronic and a diatopic perspective. In older Germanic, as in other Indo-European languages, one of the functions of genitive case within the dp is the marking of (pseudo-)partitivity. So-called independent partitive genitives are abundantly attested for Old and Middle High German. The decline of the genitive case necessarily led to the loss of the possibility to express part—whole relations. Some modern varieties of Continental West Germanic, however, exhibit remnants of this use of genitive forms, such as Walliser and Walser German dialects as well as Luxembourgish. In other varieties, the loss of the genitive led to the development of new markers or the reuse of forms, such as the preposition von/van ‘from, of’ in Southern Rhine Franconian or Dutch. In many contexts, the Germanic markers pattern with the so-called “partitive article” in French and Italian, which raises the question of the possible role of contact given that several of the varieties investigated are situated in the Germanic-Romance contact zone. We will take a closer look at the formation and the functions of these structures, in order to better understand their distribution and semantics, not least in comparison with bare noun phrases. Finally, we will draw a parallel to the corresponding pronouns.

In: Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article
Author: Tabea Ihsane

Abstract

In this paper, we analyze sentences with a des-complement, that is, a complement introduced by a so-called “partitive article” in the plural, and focus on the impact of this complement on the (a)telicity of the eventuality. Although des-complements generally occur in atelic sentences, we discuss some telic situations in which they are possible. To explain the acceptability of such sentences, we examine various semantic properties of these complements which could play a role in the telic interpretation, such as the presence/absence of an implicit quantity expression in the complement, their type of reference (quantized vs. cumulative; individuated) and specificity. We propose that the des-complements found in telic situations involve a quantity that is known and that this “knowledge” can be formalized in terms of epistemic specificity, as defined in Von Heusinger (2002a, 2002b and subsequent developments).

In: Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article