LINGUIST List 25.2551

Fri Jun 13 2014

Diss: Yudja, Lang Acq, Lang Documentation, Psycholing, Semantics: Lima: 'The Grammar of Individuation and Counting'

Editor for this issue: Danuta Allen <>

Date: 13-Jun-2014
From: Suzi Lima <>
Subject: The Grammar of Individuation and Counting
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Institution: University of Massachusetts at Amherst
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2014

Author: Suzi Lima

Dissertation Title: The Grammar of Individuation and Counting

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Language Acquisition
                            Language Documentation
Language Family(ies): Juruna

Dissertation Director:
Lyn Frazier
Angelika Kratzer

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation investigates the linguistic expression of individuation and counting in Yudja (Juruna family),
a Tupi language spoken in Brazil. Based on elicitation data and experimental studies with children and
adults, three main topics are explored: (i) the semantic properties of numeral constructions and their
compatibility with notional count and notional mass nouns; (ii) the semantics of container phrases and their
interaction with numerals, and finally (iii) the semantics of nominal quantifiers. It is shown that in Yudja
numerals and count quantifiers (such as many in English) can be directly combined with notional count (dog)
and notional mass nouns (water). Based on this fact, the main claim of this dissertation is that in Yudja all
nouns can be used as count nouns. That is, in this language maximal self-connected concrete portions of a
kind can be considered as atoms and can be counted. This claim is made based on three fundamental
properties of this language that were supported by experimental studies with children and adults. First
(Chapter 2), the data elicit in context-based elicitation sessions show that notional count and crucially
notional mass nouns can be directly combined with numerals even when coercion is not possible (assuming
that the requirements for coercion – universal packager - are the same across languages). Second (Chapter
5), the results of quantity judgments studies with Yudja children and adults suggest that all nouns can be
directly combined with count-quantifiers and that count-quantifiers are necessarily interpreted as referring to
the number of concrete portions. These two properties together suggest that in Yudja there are no linguistic
expressions that select only notional count nouns such as pïza ‘canoe’ or iidja ‘woman’. To conclude, based
on felicity judgment tasks with Yudja children and adults, it is shown that container phrases can be
interpreted as locatives and do not necessarily determine the individuation unit in the Yudja language which
further supports the claim that in this language all nouns can be interpreted as count nouns.

Page Updated: 13-Jun-2014