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Lecture | Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series

Individuation and Countability of Event Nominals

Thursday 11 November 2021
Com(parative) Syn(tax) Series
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden


Derived nominals which carry an eventive meaning have been thoroughly discussed in syntax and semantics with respect to a variety of phenomena including verbal/nominal properties, argument structure, aspectual properties, or polysemy. Considering nominal properties, such as pluralization, the issue shifts to the count/mass distinction and the need to determine whether such event nominals are count or mass. In this regard, several theories have been put forward arguing that aspectual properties or the argument structure drive the countability of such nominals. Thorough corpora studies have shown, however, that the issue is not as clear-cut as assumed. On the contrary, event nominals are subject to great variation. In my thesis I investigated 200 de-predicated nouns in COCA and identified generalizations regarding the distinctive features that drive countability in event nominals and meaning shifts which result in a change of countability as well. In this presentation we will look into different ways of individuating event nominals and how these cases differ from ordinary counting constructions. We will show that the distinction between individuation and countability is essential in understanding how the count/mass distinction is manifested in eventive nominals.

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