The capricious evolution of the indefinite plural article uns and its relationship with lexical
plurality in medieval French
Anne Carlier | University of Lille | CNRS UMR STL | Anna.Carlier@univ-lille3.fr
The indefinite plural article uns in medieval French conjoins the features of unity and
plurality. Because of its grammatical nature, uns is not restricted to lexical plurals, but combines in a
productive way to nouns having a regular singular-plural alternation in order to create a complex referent not reducible to the
sum of its components. Moreover, uns expresses not only quantitative unity ‘one single N’, but also qualitative
unity ‘one same N’ and is not linked to lexical plurality in the latter case. Since its features of unity and plurality are
considered as incompatible, plural indefinite articles have been assumed to emerge in an advanced stage of grammaticalization,
when the numeral source meaning is bleached out, and to be not viable over time. Both hypotheses were invalidated in the present
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