Linguistics and Philosophy

, Volume 40, Issue 2, pp 165–205 | Cite as

A new kind of degree

Original Research

Abstract

This paper presents a case study of the English noun amount, a word that ostensibly relies on measurement in its semantics, yet stands apart from other quantizing nouns on the basis of its existential interpretation. John ate the amount of apples that Bill ate does not mean John and Bill ate the same apples, but rather that they each ate apples in the same quantity. Amount makes reference to abstract representations of measurement, that is, to degrees. Its existential interpretation evidences the fact that degrees contain information about the objects that instantiate them. Outside the domain of nominal measurement, the noun kind exhibits behavior strikingly similar to that of amount; both yield an existential interpretation. This observation motivates re-conceiving of degrees as nominalized quantity-uniform properties—the same sort of entity as kinds. Thus, the semantic machinery handling kinds also handles degrees: as nominalized properties, degrees are instantiated by objects that hold the corresponding property; when instantiated by real-world objects, degrees (and kinds) deliver the existential interpretation.

Keywords

Degrees Measurement Kinds Nominalized properties Degree relatives 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Åfarli T. (1994) A promotion analysis of restrictive relative clauses. Linguistic Review 11(1): 81–100Google Scholar
  2. Anderson C., Morzycki M. (2015) Degrees as kinds. Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 33(3): 791–828CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Brasoveanu, A. (2009). Measure noun polysemy and monotonicity: Evidence from Romanian pseudopartitives. In A. Schardl, M. Walkow, & M. Abdurranhman (Eds.), Proceedings of NELS 38 (pp. 139–150).Google Scholar
  4. Carlson G. (1977a) Amount relatives. Language 53(3): 520–542CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carlson, G. (1977b). Reference to kinds in English. PhD thesis, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.Google Scholar
  6. Cartwright H. M. (1970) Quantities. The Philosophical Review 79(1): 25–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Chierchia G. (1998) Reference to kinds across languages. Natural Language Semantics 6: 339–405CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Chomsky, N. (1977). On Wh-movement. In P. W. Culicover, T. Wasow, & A. Akmajian (Eds.), Formal syntax (pp. 71–132). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Citko B. (2011a) Small clauses. Language and Linguistics Compass 5(10): 748–763CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Citko B. (2011b) Symmetry in syntax: Merge, move and labels. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cresswell, M. J. (1976). The semantics of degree. In B. H. Partee (Ed.), Montague grammar (pp. 261–292). New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  12. Davies, M. (2010–). The corpus of historical American English: 400 million words, 1810-2009. Retrieved from http://corpus.byu.edu/coha/.
  13. Dayal, V. (1992). The singular-plural distinction in Hindi generics. In C. Barker & D. Dowty (Eds.), Semantics and linguistic theory (SALT) 2. OSU Working Papers in Linguistics (Vol. 40, pp. 39–58).Google Scholar
  14. Dayal V. (2004) Number marking and (in)definiteness in kind terms. Linguistics and Philosophy 27: 393–450CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Donati C., Cecchetto C. (2011) Relabeling heads: A unified account for relativization structures. Linguistic Inquiry 42(4): 519–560CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Grimm, S. (2012). Number and individuation. PhD thesis, Stanford University.Google Scholar
  17. Grosu A., Landman F. (1998) Strange relatives of the third kind. Natural Language Semantics 6: 125–170CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Heim, I. (1985). Notes on comparatives and related matters. Unpublished MS, University of Texas, Austin.Google Scholar
  19. Heim, I. (1987). Where does the definiteness restriction apply? Evidence from the definiteness of variables. In E. J. Reuland & A. G. B. ter Meulen (Eds.), The representation of (in)definiteness (pp. 21–42). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  20. Kayne R. (1994) The antisymmetry of syntax. MA: MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  21. Kennedy C. (1999) Projecting the adjective: The syntax and semantics of gradability and comparison. Garland, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  22. Kennedy C. (2007) Vagueness and grammar: The semantics of relative and absolute gradable adjectives. Linguistics and Philosophy 30: 1–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Kennedy C., McNally L. (2005) Scale structure, degree modification and the semantics of gradable predicates. Language 81: 345–381CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Lima, S. (2014). The grammar of individuation and counting. PhD thesis, University of Massachusetts Amherst.Google Scholar
  25. Link, G. (1983). The logical analysis of plurals and mass terms. In R. Bäuerle, C. Schwarze, & A. von Stechow (Eds.), Meaning, use, and interpretation of language (pp. 302–323). Berlin: de Gruyter.Google Scholar
  26. McNally, L. (2016). Modification. In M. Aloni & P. Dekker (Eds.), Cambridge handbook of formal semantics (pp. 442–466). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Milsark, G. (1974). Existential sentences in English. PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  28. Montague, R. (1974). English as a formal language. In R. H. Thomason (Ed.), Formal philosophy: Selected papers of Richard Montague (pp. 188–226). New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Moro A. (2000) Dynamic antisymmetry. MA: MIT Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  30. Partee B. (1975) Montague grammar and transformational grammar. Linguistic Inquiry 6: 203–300Google Scholar
  31. Partee, B. H. (1987). Noun phrase interpretation and type-shifting principles. In J. Groenendijk, D. de Jongh, & M. Stokhof (Eds.), Studies in discourse representation theory and the theory of generalized quantifiers (pp. 115–143). Dordrecht: Foris.Google Scholar
  32. Rothstein, S. (2013). A Fregean semantics for number words. In M. Aloni, M. Franke, & F. Roelofsen (Eds.), Proceedings of the 19th Amsterdam Colloquium (pp. 179–186).Google Scholar
  33. Russell, B. (1938). The principles of mathematics (2nd ed.). New York: W.W. Norton.Google Scholar
  34. Safir, K. (1982). Syntactic chains and the definiteness effect. PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  35. Sauerland, U. (1998). The meaning of chains. PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  36. Schwarzschild R. (2006) The role of dimensions in the syntax of noun phrases. Syntax 8(1): 67–110CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schwarzschild R. (2008) The semantics of comparatives and other degree constructions. Language and Linguistics Compass 2(2): 308–331CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Scontras, G. (2014). The semantics of measurement. PhD thesis, Harvard University.Google Scholar
  39. Seuren, P. A. M. (1973). The comparative. In F. Kiefer & N. Ruwet (Eds.), Generative grammar in Europe (pp. 528–564). Dordrecht: Reidel.Google Scholar
  40. Sharvy R. (1980) A more general theory of definite descriptions. The Philosophical Review 89(4): 607–624CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Solt S. (2015) Measurement scales in natural language. Language and Linguistics Compass 9: 14–32CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Stowell, T. (1981). Origins of phrase structure. PhD thesis, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.Google Scholar
  43. von Stechow A. (1984) Comparing semantic theories of comparison. Journal of Semantics 3: 1–77CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wilkinson, K. (1995). The semantics of the common noun kind. In G. N. Carlson & F. J. Pelletier (Eds.), The generic book (pp. 383–397). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  45. Zamparelli, R. (1998). A theory of kinds, partitives and of/z possessives. In A. Alexiadou & C. Wilder (Eds.), Possessors, predicates and movement in the determiner phrase (pp. 259–301). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Linguistics, School of Social SciencesUniversity of California, IrvineIrvineUSA

Personalised recommendations