Elaborations, Developments, Justifications

Fred Landman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Section 11.1 pulls together themes from several earlier chapters. It presents an Iceberg semantic analysis of partitives. It gives a conservative semantics for measure comparison most. The section uses both of these to show that neat mass nouns allow measure comparison readings that are distinct from the measure comparision readings of corresponding partitives. This shows that the measure comparison readings of neat mass nouns cannot be attributed to downshifting, and, with that, the section clinches the argument that neat mass nouns and count nouns differ not just in a grammatical feature, but in their semantics. Section 11.2 redefines the operation of singular shift from Chap. 6 by using a slightly extended notion of i-set. Section 11.3 deals with pragmagic: changing, in context, the ontology as part of a give and take between speech participants. I discuss two techniques for deriving interpretations with a disjoint base: the technique of doppelgänger for local overlap situations, and the global technique of indexing for counting parts and wholes separately. The second technique is incorporated in the neat semantics for distributive adjective big. I discuss the more drastic effects on count noun interpretation. Section 11.4 contains a very preliminary discussion of abstract mass nouns. It is argued that abstract event nouns like crime have both count and neat mass interpretations, and it is argued that abstract degree nouns like love have both mess mass and neat mass interpretations. These observations go against some claims made in the literature. Section 11.5 is my Apologia about the Literature. I have been in this book very selective in what literature to discuss extensively, what to discuss briefly, and what not at all. These choices have been motivated by the story that I decided to tell in this book – from Mountain semantics to Iceberg semantics – and by the form that I chose for telling it. This final section provides some comments on the diachronic setting for this story, as I see it, and in that way gives some of my rationale for making the choices I made. In the course of this, some more important literature is mentioned, and at times even discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationStudies in Linguistics and Philosophy
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages39
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameStudies in Linguistics and Philosophy
ISSN (Print)0924-4662
ISSN (Electronic)2215-034X


  • Abstract mass noun
  • Measure comparison
  • Partitive
  • Pragmagic
  • Singular shift


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