The mass/count distinction in Japanese from the perspective of partitivity

Abstract

This article presents a novel set of observations concerning partitive constructions that indicate that bare nouns in Japanese can be marked with the singular/plural distinction, despite the absence of its overt morphological reflection. The new data set challenges the currently dominant view that bare nouns are number-neutral in classifier languages. A way of accommodating the phenomenon with the syntactically represented singular/plural distinction is provided. Implications for noun classification are also discussed. It is then concluded that it is a mistake to regard Japanese nouns with count semantics as furniture-type nouns and that we need to recognize the familiar mass/count distinction in the language.

Keywords

bare nouns, classifier languages, mass/count distinction, mass plurals, number marking

How to Cite

Watanabe, A., (2017) “The mass/count distinction in Japanese from the perspective of partitivity”, Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 2(1): 98. doi: https://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.116

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Akira Watanabe (University of Tokyo, 7-3-1 Hongo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo)

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0

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