The establishment of quantifier constructions for size nouns
A diachronic case study of heap(s) and lot(s)
Based on exhaustive diachronic corpus data, this paper determines the relative chronology in which the size nouns heap(s) and lot(s) have developed quantifier uses within NP of NP-syntagms, as in heaps / a lot of people. Using a constructional approach, it is claimed that size nouns occur in three distinct constructions or form–meaning pairings identified on the basis of systematic syntactic, semantico-pragmatic and collocational features. I argue that in order to establish which size noun was first to develop a quantifier use, we have to analyse diachronic data sets in terms of three constructions, viz. lexical head, partitive and quantifier constructions. In doing so, I will argue against the claim that heap developed its quantifier use first, around 1300, while lot developed one only around 1800. I will show that heap and lot(s) appear in an early partitive construction, c1300 and c1200, respectively, in which they are head nouns and have a collective sense. The quantifier construction in which heap(s) and lot(s) have modifier status and assess quantity similar to canonical quantifier many/much appears around the same time for both, viz. c1780.
Keywords: size nouns, grammaticalisation, quantifiers, attractor models, diachronic corpus analysis
Published online: 02 July 2012
Cited by 6 other publications
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