Article published in:Lexical plurals and beyond
Edited by Peter Lauwers and Marie Lammert
[Lingvisticæ Investigationes 39:2] 2016
► pp. 309–334
The capricious evolution of the indefinite plural article uns and its relationship with lexical plurality in medieval French
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 study.
Keywords: lexical plural, indefinite article, grammaticalization
Published online: 30 March 2017
Carlier, A., & Combettes B.
Laca, B., & Tasmowski, L.
(1988) Sicut unus pater familias: opmerkingen over het gebruik van ille en unus in verband met de ontwikkeling in de Romaanse talen. (www.harmpinkster.nl/files/articles/Sicut_unus_pater_familias_(1988).pdf)