Research Article

Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 235-276

First online:

Measurement in the nominal and verbal domains

  • Kimiko NakanishiAffiliated withDepartment of Linguistics, University of Calgary Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This paper examines some aspects of the grammar of measurement based on data from non-split and split measure phrase (MP) constructions in Japanese. I claim that the non-split MP construction involves measurement of individuals, while the split MP construction involves measurement of events as well as of individuals. This claim is based on the observation that, while both constructions are subject to some semantic restrictions in the nominal domain, only the split MP construction is sensitive to restrictions in the verbal domain (namely, incompatibility with single-occurrence events and with individual-level predicates, and (un)availability of collective readings). It is shown that these semantic restrictions can be explained by a uniform semantic constraint on the measure function, namely, Schwarzschild’s [(2002). The grammar of measurement. The Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistics Theory, 24, 241–306] monotonicity constraint. In particular, I argue that, in the two constructions at issue, the measure function is subject to the monotonicity constraint, and that we observe different semantic restrictions depending on whether the measure function applies to a nominal or a verbal domain.


Measure phrases Numerals Split quantifiers Events Lattices Distributivity Plurality