Article published in:Weak Referentiality
Edited by Ana Aguilar-Guevara, Bert Le Bruyn and Joost Zwarts
[Linguistik Aktuell/Linguistics Today 219] 2014
► pp. 157–182
Many a plural
The aim of the present paper is to contribute to the literature on plurals by showing that, cross-linguistically, not all plurals are unmarked semantically. Focusing on Arabic, where the plural comes in many guises, and proposing different syntactic positions for its different manifestations, I show that, while classifying plurals (broken and sound plurals) allow an inclusive reading ( one or more ), counting plurals (plural of the singulative and double plurals) do not: they tolerate only exclusive readings ( more than one ). I then show that classifying plurals in Arabic allow inclusive readings in environments that favour number neutrality (modals, negation, etc.) and argue that, in these contexts, plurals denote kinds (in the sense of Carlson 1977 and following Grimm 2013 for English plurals). Such plural nominals do not presuppose the existence of any particular referents: they are weakly referential and that is why they allow inclusive readings.
Published online: 03 December 2014
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