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Academic Paper

Title: New insights into English count and mass nouns – the Cognitive Grammar perspective
Author: Grzegorz Drożdż
Linguistic Field: Cognitive Science; Linguistic Theories; Syntax
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The article deals with two of the long-standing problems in English linguistics: whether it is possible that each noun can have both count and mass senses, and the problem of determining a complete list of the regularities of count-to-mass and mass-to-count changes. While there have been numerous attempts to solve each of these problems, this article shows the results of applying Cognitive Grammar to them.

The analysis covers a set of concrete nouns representative of English – sixty nouns with different ontological properties and all frequencies of occurrence. These are nouns that are classified by dictionaries as solely count and solely mass. Because of its usage-based character, the analysis scrutinises over 1,700 real-life utterances produced by native speakers of English. The analysis shows that even such nouns possess senses whose properties are the reverse of the properties of the nouns’ basic senses. A thorough examination of the nouns’ basic and extended senses leads to certain grammatical regularities of count-to-mass and mass-to-count changes. The analysis not only systematises the grammatical regularities determined so far and solves many problems that can be noticed about them, but also proposes novel regularities.


This article appears IN English Language and Linguistics Vol. 24, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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