Johanna Marie Poppek, Tibor Kiss, Francis Jeffry Pelletier
Kinds, Containers, Instances: Mass Nouns and Plurality
Abstract The existence of formally realized plurality in the domain of mass nouns is a major challenge, especially if the hypothesis is taken that mass nouns possess some kind of “built in” plurality as their main distinguishing feature compared to count nouns. To address this issue, we performed a large-scale corpus study on the plural occurrences of mass nouns and dual life nouns using the OANC corpus and a database of noun-sense pairs annotated in terms of their countability class. Results showed that not only do pluralizations of mass terms occur frequently in the corpus, the nature of their meaning shifts differs with regards to their specific countability class, providing a deeper insight into the semantic and pragmatic nature of the count and mass continuum.
Keywords Countability, plural, mass terms, corpus study