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Two Dutch many ’s and the structure of pseudo-partitives


Eddy G. Ruys

UiL-OTS, Utrecht University, NL
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This article discusses the syntax and semantics of Dutch pseudo-partitive constructions with measure nouns, such as drie liter water ‘three liters of water’. The major empirical puzzle is the distribution of two Dutch instances of many/much: veel and vele. Unlike earlier proposals, I analyze veel as a gradable adjective, and vele as a numeral. It turns out that in pseudo-partitives with pure measure readings, only vele can freely occur (veel liters water only allows a marked “liter-bottle” reading). This is puzzling, because veel is otherwise allowed both with mass and count terms, and both in the singular and in the plural. I adopt the more-or-less standard right-branching syntax for Dutch pseudo-partitives (providing some new arguments for its correctness), and propose a semantics for measure nouns which, in combination with Ionin & Matushansky’s semantics for cardinals, correctly characterizes these constructions and explains where pure measure readings occur. I then show that my analysis correctly derives the behavior of veel and vele in these constructions, given their characterization as a gradable adjective and a numeral.

This article is part of the Special Collection: Partitives

How to Cite: Ruys, E. G. (2017). Two Dutch many ’s and the structure of pseudo-partitives. Glossa: a journal of general linguistics, 2(1), 7. DOI:
Published on 14 Feb 2017.
Peer Reviewed


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