Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

New from Cambridge University Press!


Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

We Have a New Site!

With the help of your donations we have been making good progress on designing and launching our new website! Check it out at!
***We are still in our beta stages for the new site--if you have any feedback, be sure to let us know at***

Academic Paper

Title: Are there any collective nouns among lexical plurals in English?
Author: Laure Gardelle
Linguistic Field: Lexicography; Semantics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: The grammatical tradition has excluded lexical plurals from the category of collective nouns on the sole basis of their morphology (no discrepancy between singular form and so-called plural reference); but this criterion has led to hesitations, some linguists including, for instance, cattle or people. This study therefore considers other, semantic, criteria to establish more convincingly whether lexical plurals that denote pluralities of entities may be collective nouns. Relying on distinctions between meronymy and (non-taxonomic) hyperonymy, collectiveness and cohesion, and (a) crew (collective sense) / (several) crew (uninflected plural), it concludes that they are definitely not collective nouns, but aggregate nouns (or senses of nouns). Two sets are established. Some, mainly denoting humans, typically originate in the collective sense of the noun through a coercion mechanism; the others, mainly denoting objects, result from an operation of abstraction. For some of these, the notion of “hyperonyms of plural classes” is put forward.

La tradition grammaticale a exclu les pluriels lexicaux de la catégorie des noms collectifs sur la seule base de leur morphologie (pas de divergence entre la forme singulière et la supposée pluralité de référence). Mais ce critère a conduit à des hésitations : certains linguistes, par exemple, y incluent cattle ‘bétail’ ou people ‘gens’. Cette étude examine donc d'autres critères, c'est-à-dire les critères sémantiques, pour établir de façon plus convaincante si les pluriels lexicaux qui dénotent des pluralités d'entités pourraient être des noms collectifs. S'appuyant sur les distinctions entre la méronymie et l'hyperonymie (non taxonomique), entre la collectivité et la cohésion, et entre a crew ‘un équipage’ (sens collectif) et several crew ‘plusieurs membres d’équipage’ (pluriel non marqué), il conclut qu'ils ne sont de toute évidence pas des noms collectifs, mais des noms (ou sens de noms) d'agrégat. Deux groupes sont établis : certains, qui dénotent principalement des êtres humains, proviennent généralement du sens collectif du nom par un mécanisme de coercition; les autres, qui dénotent principalement des objets, résultent d'une opération d'abstraction. Pour certains d'entre eux, la notion d'hyperonymes de classes plurielles est proposée.


This article appears IN Canadian Journal of Linguistics Vol. 63, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

Return to TOC.

View the full article for free in the current issue of
Cambridge Extra Magazine!
Add a new paper
Return to Academic Papers main page
Return to Directory of Linguists main page