LINGUIST List 30.4485

Tue Nov 26 2019

Confs: Morphology, Semantics, Syntax, Typology/Germany

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 20-Nov-2019
From: NaP2019 organizers <>
Subject: Number and Plurality: Cross-linguistic Variation in the Nominal Domain (part of LinG2)
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Number and Plurality: Cross-linguistic Variation in the Nominal Domain (part of LinG2)
Short Title: NaP2019

Date: 11-Dec-2019 - 12-Dec-2019
Location: Göttingen, Niedersachsen, Germany
Contact: NaP2019 organizers
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Morphology; Semantics; Syntax; Typology

Meeting Description:

Cross-linguistic variation concerning the presence of number marking, the count-mass distinction and the expression of plurality has been an inspiring source for hypotheses about the structure and meaning of nominals. One important challenge for current research is to figure out if different number-marking strategies systematically correspond to differences in the semantics of nominals or if the variation in number marking is orthogonal to semantic variation.

Some approaches take different number-marking strategies to indicate cross-linguistic semantic variation: Lucy (1992) speculated that Yucatec Mayan speakers “treat nouns semantically as masses” in order to explain the optionality of plural morphology and the need for numeral classifiers. If so, the quantificational properties of nominals systematically depend on the available aspectual properties of the nominals (cf. Krifka 1989, Rijkhoff 1991, Champollion 2015), such that variation between (classifier vs. non-classifier languages) and within (mass/count) languages is traced back to a common source. Partially building on these ideas, Chierchia (1998) integrated cross-linguistic variation in number marking into a general framework of the possible denotations of bare nominals, relating the presence/absence of number marking to the presence/absence of determiners and classifiers in a language.

The hypothesis that the denotations of nominals differ across languages raises the question how such differences relate to the cross-linguistic variation in number marking. One relevant insight from typological research is that a substantial part of this variation is to be found in the lexicon. Thus, number marking is sensitive to animacy in some languages, to humanness in some other languages, and to human rationality in yet others, i.e. to language-specific lexical semantic properties (Smith-Stark 1972, Corbett 2004). A further source of morphosyntactic variation comes from the role of the plural morphemes in nominal structures (head/modifier, cf. Wiltschko 2008).

Cross-linguistic variation concerning semantic plurality and the count-mass distinction also raises the broader question if these grammatical phenomena relate closely to conceptual distinctions that matter for non-linguistic cognition, or if this correlation is indirect and permits systematic mismatches between grammatical and conceptual countability (cf. e.g. Rothstein 2017).

The aim of this workshop is to bring together research, theoretical or experimental, on morphological, syntactic and semantic aspects of number marking and the expression of plurality that shed light on the observed cross-linguistic variation. Possible questions include but are not limited to:

- Which number-marking strategies do natural languages employ?
- Which other semantic properties of nominals correlate with semantic plurality and the count/mass distinction across languages?
- Is semantic plurality associated with cross-linguistic constraints on the meanings of nominals? If so, what explains these constraints?
- What are the consequences of particular nominal denotations for countability, the possibility of plural marking, the use of classifiers and determiners, and the predicational and argumental potential of nouns?
- What is the division of labor between syntax and semantics in accounting for the constraints on plural marking?
- To what extent can nominal expressions without morphosyntactic plural marking (e.g. conjunctions or singular quantifiers) behave like plurals semantically?
- What cross-linguistic evidence can be found for the claim that languages with bare nominals employ covert determiners?
- To what extent do semantic plurality and the count-mass distinction correspond to conceptual distinctions relevant for non-linguistic cognition?


Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Registration and introduction

Gennaro Chierchia: Universal Mass/Count structures and their consequences for number marking

Pritha Chandra and Preeti Kumari: Plural Licensing and Meso-variation

M. Rita Manzini: Morphosyntactic identity of count plural and mass N(P)s

Scott Grimm and Peter Guekguezian: Plurality and Determinancy in Western Armenian

Tacettin Turgay: Morphosyntax of Number in Turkish

Peter R. Sutton and Hana Filip: Singular/Plural contrasts: The case of Informational Object Nouns

Lightning talks

Poster session

- Pavel Caha and Marcin Wągiel: Abstract counting and object counting across languages
- Jan Davatz and Elisabeth Stark: Francoprovençal (B): Galloromance varieties without mass vs. plural distinction?
- Brigitta R. Schvarcz and Borbála Nemes: Why do we need a general classifier in a mass/count language?
- Lola Türker: Uzbek and the Nominal Mapping Parameter: what counts as a bare noun in Uzbek?
- Heike Wiese: A cross-linguistic mass default for object-denoting nouns? Findings from a multilingual Berlin market
- Kata Wohlmuth and Brigitta R. Schvarcz: Classifiers are for count nouns: evidence from Hungarian

19:30: Dinner

Thursday, 12 December 2019

Amy Rose Deal: title t.b.a.

Helena Guerra Vicente and Daiane Ramires: The expression of number in Kaiowá (Tupí-Guaraní): alternatives and implicatures

Roumyana Pancheva: The Bulgarian 'count' form is semantically singular

Brigitta R. Schvarcz: Hungarian Nominalized Numerals are Plural Individuals

Peter R. Sutton and Carol-Rose Little: The Finnish partitive in counting and measuring constructions

Marcin Wągiel: Countability and spatial integrity in partitives

Takanobu Nakamura: Distributivity within Nominal Domain and Kind Partition Readings

The workshop “Number and plurality: cross-linguistic variation in the nominal domain” will take place at the University of Göttingen, Germany, on December 11-12, 2019. For more detailed information, please visit the workshop's web site:

This workshop is part of LinG2, the Annual Meeting of the Linguistics in Göttingen network: LinG2 will also contain a workshop on “New Ways of Analyzing Ancient Greek, 1” to take place on December 13-14, 2019.

Page Updated: 26-Nov-2019