Bare Nouns and the Hungarian Mass/Count Distinction

  • Kurt ErbachEmail author
  • Peter R. Sutton
  • Hana Filip
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 11456)


We argue that in Hungarian notionally count, singular nouns like könyv (‘book’), toll (‘pen’), and ház (‘house’) are semantically number-neutral (see also Farkas and de Swart (2010)). This departs from the view that such nouns are dual-life with respect to being count or mass, such as brick or stone in English, as recently argued by Rothstein (2017) and Schvarcz and Rothstein (2017), who rely on two assumptions: that pseudo-partitive (measure) NPs require mass predicates denoting measured entities (Rothstein 2011); and that classifiers modify mass nouns (Chierchia 1998, 2010). We provide evidence against these two assumptions and argue that, together with (i) the commonly accepted analysis of measure DPs on which they require cumulative predicates to denote what is measured (i.a, Krifka 1989; Filip 1992, 2005; Nakanishi 2003; Schwarzschild 2006; and (ii) for an analysis of classifiers (Krifka 1995; Sudo 2017) in which they combine with numerical expressions rather than nouns, a number neutral analysis of Hungarian notionally count, singular nouns covers a wider range of data than a dual-life analysis does. We build on the use of context to specify what counts as one (Landman 2011; Rothstein 2010; Sutton and Filip 2016) and the analyses of counting and measuring in Filip and Sutton (2017) yielding a novel analysis in which Hungarian has many count nouns and many mass nouns, rather than many dual-life and mass nouns, but few count nouns.


Count/mass Number-neutral Classifiers Context-sensitivity 


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Heinrich Heine UniversitätDüsseldorfGermany

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