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Conference Information



Full Title: Bare Nouns vs. ‘Partitive Articles': Differences and Similarities

      
Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Start Date: 10-Sep-2017 - 13-Sep-2017
Contact: Tabea Ihsane
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: Several Romance and some Germanic languages feature a ‘partitive article’ (PA), like du/des (of.the) in French and del/dei (of.the) in Italian, often found in contexts where many European languages have bare plural or bare mass nouns. The workshop aims at bringing together researchers working on any aspect pertaining to both of these nominals.

The most common interpretation of PAs, and focus of this workshop, is their indefinite use as in Gianni ha comprato dei libri (It); Jean a acheté des livres (Fr) ‘John bought (some) books’ (Storto 2003, Cardinaletti/Giusti 2016). Although there is abundant literature on PAs (e.g. Ihsane 2008) and bare nouns (e.g. Kabatek/Wall 2013), these works do not offer a systematic comparison between the two types of nominals and many questions remain.

The phenomena discussed in this workshop could include the following issues:

1. Evolution of PAs:

Although Romance languages developed from Latin, not all of them have PAs. As Latin didn’t have articles, one question is when and why (indefinite) bare nouns gave way to nominals with (partitive) articles. Another one is why present-day Romance languages vary as to whether PAs are obligatory or not: Je bois *(du) jus (Fr); Bevo (del) succo (It) ‘I drink juice’.

2. Distribution:

French PAs may pattern with English bare nouns in some contexts (e.g. with individual-level predicates: *Des hommes sont blonds/*Men are blond; Guéron 2006), but not in others (e.g. generics: Je déteste *des chats vs. I hate cats). Similarly, French PAs pattern with Spanish bare nouns in some contexts (e.g. generics), but not in others, such as subject positions: Des évêques ont participé (Fr); *Obispos asistieron (Sp) ‘bishops attended’. The latter can however be rescued with appropriate focus/topic interpretation (Suñer 1982, Leonetti 2013). Similarly, many French generic examples with a PA in their subject become acceptable in presence of the right element (e.g. adjective, negation) (Roig 2013).

3. Scope differences:

Bare nouns only have narrow scope (Carlson 1977), except for Brazilian Portuguese (Wall forthcoming), whereas nominals with a PA are ambiguous (Fr: Ihsane 2008; It: Cardinaletti/Giusti 2016). This ambiguity however only concerns plural nominals with PAs, which raises the question of the role of number in these facts (Benincà 1980).

4. Internal structure:

If nominals with PAs have scope properties, it suggests that they are quantificational. Whether this is mapped into their structure is debatable. Cardinaletti/Giusti (2016) claim that Italian dei-nominals are DPs, not QPs. This proposal should be tested cross-linguistically, also in contrast with singular PAs, which do not have scope properties.

Workshop Convenors:

Tabea Ihsane (University of Geneva and University of Zurich)
Elisabeth Stark (University of Zurich)
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Syntax
LL Issue: 27.4511

This is a session of the following meeting:
50th Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea

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