Thursday 20 April – Heidi Klockmann

Speaker: Heidi Klockmann (Utrecht University /Leiden University)
Title: The semi-lexicality of quantificational nouns in English pseudopartitives
Date: Thursday 20 April
Venue: Lipsius 30
Time: 15.15-16.30 hrs
In this talk, I discuss the use of the quantificational nouns lot, ton, and bunch (Q-nouns) in English pseudopartitives. These elements show a mixed behavior, functioning as quantifiers (i.e. they say something about the quantity of the following noun), despite having an apparently nominal morphosyntax. In particular, they surface with both an indefinite article and the particle of (1)-(3), just as non-quantifying nouns do (4). Ton and lot, furthermore, allow for plural marking (5)-(6) in their quantifying function.
(1)           A bunch of people

(2)           A ton of flowers

(3)           A lot of books

(4)           A gathering of friends

(5)           Tons of flowers

(6)           Lots of books

I report on the morphosyntactic properties of these Q-nouns, including their behavior with regards to Agreement, drawing extensively on data from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (Davies 2008-), as well as speaker judgments. I explore the similarity of Q-nouns to other quantificational elements, like numerals (three, a hundred) and quantifiers (a few, many), as well as their similarity to lexical nouns. I develop the hypothesis that Q-nouns are semi-lexical (see van Riemsdijk 1998, Corver and van Riemsdijk 2001, among others), and show how a proper understanding of their semi-lexicality can allow us to account for their mixed behavior.

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