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Lexical aspect and number variation in French Complex Event Nominals

Author:

Marie Laurence Knittel

Université de Lorraine & CNRS, Nancy, FR
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Abstract

In this work, we examine the factors allowing or disallowing French Complex Event Nominals (CENs, i.e. deverbal nominals displaying argument and aspectual structures, Grimshaw 1990) to occur in the plural when denoting a plurality of events. Our claim is that French CENs can occur in the plural in such cases (Meinschaefer 2005; Roodenburg 2006; Sleeman & Brito 2010), and thus behave as count nouns. However, a restricted subclass does not exhibit number variation, similarly to other non-count nouns.

To account for the distribution of nominal plurality, we rely on lexical aspect. We show that the CENs that do not admit pluralization are strictly atelic: they nominalize strictly stative verbs or push-verbs (Verkuyl 1993). Conversely, CENs derived from any other aspectual verb class can appear in the plural, even when they nominalize atelic VPs, provided these also have a telic use. This leads to a restatement of the role of boundedness previously invoked to account for the relationship between verbal (a)telicity and nominal [±count] distinction (Bach 1976; Mourelatos 1978; Krifka 1989), that linked the [±count] property of the derived event nominal to the actual (a)telicity of the VP.

Since the distribution of plural just described is proper to CENs, which have an internal verbal structure, we suggest that it deserves a syntactic analysis. Our hypothesis is that [–count] CENs derive from verbs that are deprived of AspQP (Borer 1993; 2005). This results in turn in the absence of ClP and NumP in the nominal layers. The absence of ClP accounts for the fact that [–count] CENs do not behave as regular mass nouns.

How to Cite: Knittel, M. L. (2019). Lexical aspect and number variation in French Complex Event Nominals. Glossa: A Journal of General Linguistics, 4(1), 50. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/gjgl.745
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  Published on 16 May 2019
 Accepted on 15 Feb 2019            Submitted on 04 Jul 2018

1 Introduction

In this work, we examine the possibility for French Complex Event Nominals (henceforth CENs, Grimshaw 1990) to occur in the plural when denoting a plurality of events. CENs are deverbal nominals displaying an internal verbal structure, thus maintaining the argument and aspectual structures of the verb they nominalize.

In French, pluractionality, that is, plurality of events (Lasersohn 1995; Van Geenhoven 2004; Laca 2006), can be marked in two manners for CENs. The first consists in using a frequency adjective, which can be coupled with a non-plural nominal form (1a); the second relies on the use of a plural nominal, as in (1b).

    1. (1)
    1. a.
    1. la
    2. The
    1. rénovation
    2. renovation
    1. {fréquente
    2. {frequent
    1. /
    2. /
    1. régulière
    2. regular
    1. /
    2. /
    1. annuelle}
    2. annual}
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’ appartement
    2. the flat
    1. par
    2. by
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. ‘the {frequent/regular/annual} renovation of the flat by Max’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. les
    2. the.PL
    1. rénovation-s
    2. renovation-PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’ appartement
    2. the flat
    1. par
    2. by
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. ‘the renovations of the flat by Max’

In (1a), nominal pluractionality is conveyed in a similar manner as verbal pluractionality, by the means of a frequency adjective (1a) or adverbial (2), whereas it is expressed by regular nominal plural in (1b), contrasting with a singular form (3) in the same manner as other count nouns (4).

    1. (2)
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. renove
    2. renovates
    1. {souvent
    2. {often
    1. /
    2. /
    1. fréquemment
    2. frequently
    1. /
    2. /
    1. régulièrement}
    2. regularly}
    1. l’ appartement.
    2. the flat
    1. ‘Max {often/frequently/regularly} renovates the flat.’
    1. (3)
    1. la
    2. the
    1. rénovation
    2. renovation
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’ appartement
    2. the flat
    1. par
    2. by
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. ‘the renovation of the flat by Max’
    1. (4)
    1. le
    2. the
    1. livre
    2. book
    1. /
    2.  
    1. les
    2. the.PL
    1. livre-s
    2. book-PL
    1. ‘the book/books’

We will first show that, contra Grimshaw (1990) for English, French CENs can generally occur in the plural when denoting multiple events (see Meinschaefer 2005; Roodenburg 2006; Sleeman & Brito 2010; Knittel 2011; 2016a for similar observations). However, a restricted subclass of CENs systematically rejects pluralization. In such cases, pluractionality has to be expressed by frequency adjectives (1a).

To account for this split behavior, we will first consider the hypothesis (Bach 1976; Mourelatos 1978; Krifka 1989) that only telic ENs produce [+count] nominalizations, which consequently occur in the plural. As we will show however, the distribution of nominal plural in CENs is only partly constrained by lexical aspect; some atelic CENs indeed admit pluralization, provided their base verb exhibits a telic counterpart. Conversely, CENs derived from stative verbs or push-verbs, that have no telic uses, never occur in the plural.

This article is organized as follows. In Section 2 we describe the syntactic properties of CENs in French, paying particular attention to the possible expression of nominal pluractionality, and we show that CENs that cannot occur in the plural qualify as [–count] nouns. In Section 3, we examine the conditions underlying CEN pluralization. We show that count CENs can result from the nominalization of atelic VPs, whether activities (3.2.1.) or states (3.2.2.), provided these also have a telic counterpart. Conversely, plural cannot occur if the base is strictly atelic, which is the case of pure states and push-verbs (Verkuyl 1993). This leads a restatement of the relationship between verbal (a)telicity and nominal [±count] distinction. In Section 4, we provide a syntactic analysis accounting for the properties of the various classes of CENs under examination, showing that the presence of AspQP (Borer 1993; 2005) in the structure of the base verb results in the merging of ClP and NumP in the nominal layers of the corresponding CEN. We also discuss the peculiarity of French [–count] CENs, that do not behave as regular mass nouns, and hypothesize that they lack ClassP, contrary to other [–count] nouns in French. Our conclusion is provided in Section 5.

2 Pluractionality in Complex Event Nominals

2.1 The syntactic properties of CENs

CENs are deverbal nominals describing events, that are morphologically built by suffixation or conversion from verbal bases. According to Grimshaw (1990), they inherit both their argument structure and aspectual structure from their base verbs, due to the presence of internal verbal layers (Alexiadou 2001; 2011; Harley 2009; Alexiadou et al. 2010a; b; Borer 2013; Roy & Soare 2013 among others). These properties distinguish them from Simple Event Nominals1 (henceforth SEN), which describe events at a conceptual level only and are deprived of internal verbal structure, and from Result Nominals (henceforth RN) which, although formally similar, do not describe events.

The major syntactic properties distinguishing CENs from other classes of deverbal nominals (see in particular Grimshaw 1990; Alexiadou 2001; 2011; Borer 2013 among others) are presented in Table (1).

CEN Simple Event Nominals Result Nominals

Argument Structure +
- Obligatory internal argument +
- Agentive/Manner modifiers +
- by-phrases expressing the external argument +
- purpose infinitive clauses +
  Aspectual structure +
-in/for temporal PPs +
- frequency adjectives +
[+Nsg]
+
[+Npl]

Table 1

Distinctive properties of CENs.2

As can be seen from Table (1), CENs are derived from transitive verbs. More specifically their bases are verbs with at least a DP complement,3 that surfaces in French either as an obligatory de-PP (5a) or as the corresponding possessive determiner (5b); the external argument is optional and, when realized, appears as a par-PP. In the absence of internal argument, deverbal nominals are not CENs; consequently, the expression of the external argument by a par-PP is impossible (5c).4 In such cases, the nominal qualifies either a Simple Event Nominal or as a Result nominal.

    1. (5)
    1. a.
    1. la
    2. the
    1. réparation
    2. repair
    1. [de
    2. [of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. voiture]
    2. car]
    1. ([par
    2.   [by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. garagiste])
    2. mechanics]
    1. ([pour
    2.   [to
    1. aller
    2. go
    1. à
    2. to
    1. Lyon])
    2. Lyon]
    1. ‘the repair [of the car] ([by the mechanics]) ([in order to go to Lyon])’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. sa
    2. its
    1. réparation
    2. repair
    1. ([par
    2.   [by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. garagiste])
    2. mechanics]
    1. ‘its repair ([by the mechanics])’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. la
    2. the
    1. réparation
    2. repair
    1. *[par
    2. *[by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. garagiste]
    2. mechanics]
    1. ‘the repair *[by the mechanics]’

The presence of an aspectual structure allows CENs to combine with temporal PPs introduced by en (‘in’) or pendant (‘for’), similarly to the corresponding verbs.

    1. (6)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. la
    2. the
    1. réparation
    2. repair
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. voiture
    2. car
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. garagiste)
    2. mechanics)
    1. en
    2. in
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures
    2. hours
    1. ‘the repair of the car (by the mechanics) in two hours’
    1.  
    1. cf.
    1. b.
    1. Le
    2. the
    1. mécanicien
    2. mechanics
    1. a
    2. has
    1. réparé
    2. repaired
    1. la
    2. the
    1. voiture
    2. car
    1. en
    2. in
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures.
    2. hours
    1. ‘The mechanics repaired the car in two hours.’
    1. (7)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. l’utilisation
    2. the use
    1. du
    2. of-the
    1. photocopieur
    2. copy machine
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. élèves)
    2. pupils)
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 30 minutes
    2. 30 minutes
    1. ‘the use of the copy machine (by the pupils) for 30 minutes’
    1.  
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. élèves
    2. pupils
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. utilisé
    2. used
    1. le
    2. the
    1. photocopieur
    2. copy machine
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 30 minutes.
    2. 30 minutes
    1. ‘The pupils used the copy machine for 30 minutes.’

Finally, according to Grimshaw, CENs reject pluralization, contrary to both SENs and RNs. However, as we have seen in (1), this is not the case in French. Examples (8) show that frequency adjectives can appear with singular and plural CENs in French (Roodenburg 2006; Alexiadou et al. 2010a; b).

    1. (8)
    1. {la/les}
    2. {the.SG/the.PL}
    1. rénovation(s)
    2. renovation(.PL)
    1. {fréquente(s)
    2. {frequent(.PL)
    1. /
    2. /
    1. régulière(s)
    2. regular(.PL)
    1. /
    2. /
    1. annuelle(s)}
    2. annual(.PL)}
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’appartement
    2. the flat
    1. par
    2. by
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. ‘the {frequent/regular/annual} {renovation/renovations} of the flat by Max’

By contrast, the examples in (9) illustrate the behavior of SENs. As can be seen from (a–b), their external argument cannot be expressed by a par PPs. Similarly, duration PPs are preferably introduced by de instead of pendant. The contrast in (c–d) shows that pluractionality is not conveyed by a singular nominal form.

    1. (9)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1.     le
    2.     the
    1. voyage
    2. trip
    1. (à Paris)
    2. (to Paris)
    1. {*par
    2. {*by
    1. /
    2. /
    1. de}
    2. of}
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1.     ‘the trip to Paris {*by/of} Max’ (i.e. Max’s trip to Paris)
    1.  
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.     le
    2.     the
    1. voyage
    2. trip
    1. (à Paris)
    2. (to Paris)
    1. {??pendant
    2. {??for
    1. /
    2. /
    1. de}
    2. of}
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures
    2. hours
    1.     ‘the trip to Paris {??for/of} two hours’ (i.e. the two hours trip to Paris)
    1.  
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. ??le voyage fréquent5
    2.     (lit.: ‘the frequent trip’)
    1.  
    1. vs:
    1. d.
    1.     les
    2.     ‘the
    1. voyages
    2. frequent
    1. fréquents
    2. trips’

As for RNs, they do not combine with frequency or duration markers. In (10b), the modifier en papier ‘paper’, which forces a concrete, non-eventive interpretation of décoration ‘decoration’, prevents the presence of temporal and frequency modifiers, which are possible when décoration is an eventive nominal (9a). As can be seen from (9b), RNs do appear in the plural.

    1. (10)
    1. a.
    1. la
    2. the
    1. décoration
    2. decoration
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. maison
    2. house
    1. par
    2. by
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. chaque
    2. every
    1. année
    2. year
    1. ‘the decoration of the house by Max every year’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {une/des}
    2. {a/INDEF.PL.ART}
    1. décoration(s)
    2. decoration(.PL)
    1. en
    2. in
    1. papier
    2. paper
    1. (*{fréquente(s)
    2. (*{frequent(.PL)
    1. /
    2. /
    1. chaque
    2. every
    1. année
    2. year
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures
    2. hours
    1. /
    2. /
    1. en
    2. in
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures})
    2. hours})

Finally, the examples in (11–14) show that CENs can derive from VPs belonging to all aspectual classes, and maintain the aspectual properties of the corresponding VPs (see also Alexiadou et al. 2010a; b for similar observations on various languages). Such a phenomenon is expected, due to the Aspect Preservation Hypothesis (Fábregas & Marín 2012), that states that the aspectual properties of a complex nominalization are inherited from the aspectual properties of the verbal base.

    1. (11)
    1. a.
    1. Alice
    2. Alice
    1. {possède
    2. {possesses
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *est en train de posséder}
    2. *is possessing}
    1. (*lentement)
    2. (*slowly)
    1. un
    2. a
    1. ordinateur.
    2. computer
    1. [State]
    2.  
    1. ‘Alice {possesses/*is possessing} a computer (*slowly).’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. La
    2. the
    1. possession
    2. possession
    1. (*lente)
    2. (*slow)
    1. d’un
    2. of a
    1. ordinateur
    2. computer
    1. par
    2. by
    1. Alice
    2. Alice
    1. (*a eu
    2. (*took
    1. lieu
    2. place
    1. ce
    2. this
    1. matin.)
    2. morning)
    1. ‘The (*slow) possession of a computer by Alice (*took place this morning.)’
    1. (12)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. élèves
    2. pupils
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. utilisé
    2. used
    1. le
    2. the
    1. photocopieur
    2. copy machine
    1. {pendant
    2. {for
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *en}
    2. *in}
    1. 30 mn.
    2. 30 mn
    1. [Activity]
    2.  
    1. ‘The pupils used the copy machine {for/*in} 30 mn.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. l’utilisation
    2. the use
    1. du
    2. of.the
    1. photocopieur
    2. copy machine
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. élèves)
    2. pupils)
    1. {pendant
    2. {for
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *en}
    2. *in}
    1. 30 mn
    2. 30 mn
    1. ‘the use of the copy machine (by the pupils) {for/*in} 30 mn’
    1. (13)
    1. a.
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. a
    2. has
    1. rénové
    2. renovated
    1. l’appartement
    2. the flat
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 semaines.
    2. 2 weeks
    1. [Accomplishement]
    2.  
    1. ‘Max renovated the flat {in/≠ for} 2 weeks.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. la
    2. the
    1. rénovation
    2. renovation
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’appartement
    2. the flat
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. Max)
    2. Max)
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 semaines
    2. 2 weeks
    1. ‘the renovation of the flat (by Max) {in/≠for} 2 weeks’
    1. (14)
    1. a.
    1. La
    2. the
    1. commission
    2. commission
    1. a
    2. has
    1. validé
    2. validated
    1. le
    2. the
    1. résultat
    2. result
    1. en
    2. in
    1. (= au bout de)
    2. (= after)
    1. 10 mn.
    2. 10 mn
    1. [Achievement]
    2.  
    1. ‘The commission validated the result in (= after) 10 mn.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. la
    2. the
    1. validation
    2. validation
    1. du
    2. of.the
    1. résultat
    2. result
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. la
    2. the
    1. commission)
    2. commission)
    1. en
    2. in
    1. (= au bout de)
    2. (= after)
    1. 10 mn
    2. 10 mn
    1. ‘the validation of the result (by the commission) in (= after) 10 mn’

In (11), the stative aspect of the verb posséder ‘to own’ is shown by its incompatibility with both the French progressive en train de and the dynamic adverb lentement ‘slowly’ (Márin & McNally 2011; Fábregas & Marín 2012); moreover, if the eventuality described in sentence (11a) is considered true for a given interval, it is construed as lasting without interruption, even at the smallest subinterval. This property, known as the subinterval property (Dowty 1979) and typical of states, also holds if the eventuality is described by the corresponding CEN (11b): if one owns a computer for a certain period of time, the situation is not perceived as interrupted at any moment. Finally, the CEN headed by possession cannot occur as the subject of take place, which is also typical of stative ENs.

To measure the duration of the event, the activity verb utiliser ‘to use’ in (12) admits a temporal PP introduced by pendant ‘for’, but not by en ‘in’, and the corresponding nominal utilisation ‘use’ behaves similarly. The reverse holds for rénover ‘to renovate’ and the corresponding nominal rénovation ‘renovation’, both accomplishments. In such a case, only en can be used to measure the duration of the event up to its telos.6 Finally, with valider ‘to validate’ and validation ‘validation’, the temporal PP en 10 mn ‘in 10 mn’ means ‘after 10 mn’, as expected for achievements.

2.2 The expression of pluractionality in French CENs

As shown above in examples (1) and (8), pluractionality can be expressed in French CENs by frequency adjectives (1a), plural marking (1b) or a combination of both (8). This confirms the observation (see Meinschaefer 2005; Roodenburg 2006; Sleeman & Brito 2010; Knittel 2011; 2016a) that plural CENs can be found in French, among other languages, and contradicts Grimshaw’s (1990) observation that CENs never occur in the plural.

However, not all French CENs behave alike. As can be seen from (15), some reject pluralization:

    1. (15)
    1. a.
    1.   L’
    2.   the
    1. expression
    2. expression
    1. (fréquente)
    2. (frequent)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. ses
    2. his
    1. sentiments
    2. feelings
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. patient)
    2. patient)
    1. est
    2. is
    1. recommandée.
    2. desirable.
    1.    ‘The frequent expression of his feelings (by the patient) is desirable.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *Les
    2.   The.PL
    1. expressions
    2. expression.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. leurs
    2. their
    1. sentiments
    2. feelings
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. patients)
    2. patients)
    1. sont
    2. are
    1. recommandées.
    2. desirable

In such a case, pluractionality can only be conveyed by the means of a frequency adjective combined with a non-plural form. Interestingly, it is precisely the English version of this example that is provided by Grimshaw to illustrate her point:

(16) Grimshaw (1990: 7)
  a. The {expression/*expressions} of one’s feelings {is/*are} desirable.
  b. The frequent expression of one’s feelings is desirable.

The CEN expression contrasts with renovation (1,8), as well as e.g. invasion ‘invasion’, bombardement ‘bombing’ and lavage ‘washing’, as shown in (17):

    1. (17)
    1. a.
    1. [L’abbaye]
    2. [the abbey]
    1. renforce
    2. strengthens
    1. le
    2. the
    1. site
    2. place
    1. après
    2. after
    1. les
    2. the.PL
    1. invasions
    2. invasion.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’ Angleterre
    2. the England
    1. par
    2. by
    1. Robert
    2. Robert
    1. the
    1. d’Ecosse
    2. First of Scotland
    1. entre
    2. between
    1. 1316
    2. 1316
    1. et
    2. and
    1. 1322.7
    2. 1322.
    1. ‘[The abbey] strengthens the place after the invasions of England by Robert the First of Scotland between 1316 and 1322.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Charles
    2. Charles
    1. Brasseur
    2. Brasseur
    1. subit
    2. endured
    1. les
    2. the.PL
    1. bombardements
    2. bombing.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. Paris
    2. Paris
    1. par
    2. by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. Allemands
    2. Germans
    1. en
    2. in
    1. mars
    2. March
    1. 1918.8
    2. 1918
    1. ‘Charles Brasseur endured the bombings of Paris by the Germans in March 1918.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Les
    2. The.PL
    1. lavages
    2. washing.PL
    1. (trop
    2. (too
    1. fréquents)
    2. frequent)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. chemise
    2. shirt
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. terni
    2. faded
    1. sa
    2. its
    1. couleur.
    2. color
    1. Lit.: ‘The too frequent washings of the shirt have faded its color.’
    2. (i.e. ‘The shirt’s color faded due to too frequent washings.’)

We are thus facing two different patterns. On the one hand, CENs such as expression cannot combine with plural marking even when referring to several events. On the other hand, rénovation ‘renovation’, invasion ‘invasion’, bombardement ‘bombing’ can occur both in the singular and in the plural. In the next section, we show that this variation relies on the [±count] properties of CENs.

2.3 The [± count] properties of CENs

The availability of plural marking is a distinctive property of count nouns, which also combine with the indefinite articles un(e)SG and desPL, numerals and plusieurs ‘several’ (18a), contrary to mass nouns. The latter reject plural marking, numerals and plusieurs and, in French, are introduced by the partitive article duMASC/de laFEM when indefinite (18b).

    1. (18)
    1. a.
    1.   un
    2.   INDEF.SG.ART.
    1. livre
    2. book
    1. /
    2. /
    1. {des
    2. {INDEF.PL.ART
    1. /
    2. /
    1. trois
    2. three
    1. /
    2. /
    1. plusieurs}
    2. several}
    1. livre-s
    2. book-PL
    1.    ‘a book/{—/three/several} books’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. *unSG
    2.   INDEF.SG.ART.
    1. beurre
    2. butter
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *{desPL
    2. *{INDEF.PL.ART
    1. /
    2. /
    1. trois
    2. three
    1. /
    2. /
    1. plusieurs}
    2. several}
    1. beurre-s
    2. butter-PL
    1. /
    2. /
    1. du
    2. PART.ART.
    1. beurre
    2. butter

As shown in (19), CENs that occur in the plural can also be introduced by the indefinites une/des, or plusieurs (‘several’).

    1. (19)
    1. a.
    1. Cette
    2. this
    1. époque
    2. period
    1. commence
    2. begins
    1. avec
    2. with
    1. {l’
    2. {the
    1. /
    2. /
    1. une
    2. one
    1. /
    2. /
    1. des
    2. INDEF.PL.ART
    1. /
    2. /
    1. plusieurs}
    2. several}
    1. invasion(s)
    2. invasion(.PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’Europe
    2. the Europe
    1. par
    2. by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. Barbares
    2. Barbarians
    1. d’Outre-Rhin,
    2. from the other side of the Rhine at
    1. au
    2. the
    1. début
    2. beginning
    1. du
    2. of
    1. Vème siècle.9
    2. 5th century
    1. ‘The period begins with {the/an/(several)} invasion(s) of Europe by the Barbarians from the other side of the Rhine, at the beginning of 5th century.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. La
    2. the
    1. bataille
    2. battle
    1. principale
    2. major
    1. se poursuivait,
    2. Refl-continued
    1. avec
    2. with
    1. {des/
    2. {INDEF.PL.ART/
    1. un}
    2. a}
    1. bombardement(s)
    2. bombing(.PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. par
    2. by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. forces
    2. regular
    1. régulières.10
    2. forces
    1. The major battle was continuing, with {a bombing/bombings} of the city by the regular forces.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. {Une
    2. {a
    1. /
    2. /
    1. plusieurs}
    2. several}
    1. rénovation(s)
    2. renovation(.PL)
    1. de l’appartement
    2. of the flat
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. propriétaire)
    2. owner)
    1. {a/ont}
    2. {has/have}
    1. été
    2. been
    1. faite(s)
    2. made
    1. l’an
    2. last
    1. dernier.
    2. year
    1. ‘{A renovation/several renovations} of the flat (by the owner) {has/have} been made last year.’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. {Un
    2. {a
    1. lavage
    2. washing
    1. trop
    2. too
    1. chaud
    2. hot
    1. /
    2. /
    1. des
    2. INDEF.PL.ART.
    1. lavage-s
    2. washing-PL
    1. trop
    2. too
    1. fréquents}
    2. frequent}
    1. des
    2. of
    1. vêtements
    2. cloths
    1. en
    2. of.them
    1. ternissent
    2. fade
    1. les
    2. the
    1. couleurs.
    2. colors
    1. Lit.: {‘Too hot a washing/too frequent washings} of clothes make color fade.’
    2. ‘Clothe’s colors fade due to {too hot a washing/too frequent washings}.’

Consequently, invasion, bombardement, rénovation and lavage qualify as count CENs (see Knittel 2011; 2016a).

Conversely, like plural marking, the use of the indefinite un(e) is impossible with the CEN expression.

    1. (20)
    1. a.
    1. *Une
    2.   an
    1. expression
    2. expression
    1. de
    2. of
    1. ses
    2. one’s
    1. sentiments
    2. feelings
    1. est
    2. is
    1. recommandée.
    2. desirable.
    1.    (lit.: ‘an expression of one’s feelings is desirable.’)
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   {L’
    2.   {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *une/
    2. *a/
    1. *les}
    2. *the.PL}
    1. expression(*s)
    2. expression(.*PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. ces
    2. these
    1. sentiments
    2. feelings
    1. par
    2. by
    1. Satsuki
    2. Satsuki
    1. et
    2. and
    1. Yui
    2. Yui
    1. nous
    2. us
    1. font
    2. make
    1. palpiter
    2. thrill
    1. le
    2. the
    1. coeur!11
    2. heart
    1.    ‘{The expression(*s)/*an expression} of these feelings by Satsuki and Yui make our hearts thrill!’

The same restrictions apply to other CENs, such as possession ‘belonging’, conduite ‘driving’, or protection ‘protection’.

    1. (21)
    1. a.
    1. Malgré
    2. despite
    1. {la/
    2. {the-SG/
    1. *une/
    2. *a/
    1. *les}
    2. *the.PL}
    1. possession(*s)
    2. possession(.*PL)
    1. d’une
    2. of a
    1. voiture
    2. car
    1. par
    2. by
    1. 62 personnes,
    2. 62 persons
    1. 25
    2. 25
    1. d’entre
    2. among
    1. elles
    2. them
    1. recourent
    2. resort
    1. à
    2. to
    1. de l’aide.12
    2. PART.ART. help
    1. ‘Despite {the possession(*s)/*a possession} of a car by 62 people, 25 of them resort to help.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {La
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *une
    2. *a
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *les}
    2. *the.PL}
    1. conduite(*s)
    2. driving(.*PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. cet
    2. this
    1. engin
    2. machine
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. un/ce
    2. a/this
    1. jeune
    2. young
    1. conducteur)
    2. driver)
    1. est
    2. is
    1. risquée.
    2. risky
    1. ‘{The driving(*s)/*a driving} of this machine (by a/this young driver) is risky.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. {La
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *une
    2. *a
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *les}
    2. *the.PL}
    1. protection(*s)
    2. protection(.*PL)
    1. des
    2. of.the
    1. civils
    2. civilians
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. l’armée)
    2. the army)
    1. est
    2. is
    1. courante
    2. frequent
    1. en
    2. in
    1. temps
    2. time
    1. de
    2. of
    1. guerre.
    2. war
    1. ‘{The protection(*s)/*a protection} of the civilians by the army is common in wartime.’

The unavailability of un, des, plusieurs and numerals in (21), similarly to what was observed for the count noun beurre ‘butter’ in (17b) shows that these nominals qualify as [–count].

To sum up, pluractionality in French CENs can be conveyed in two manners. First, it can be expressed solely by frequency adjectives, since they combine with non-plural nominals (Meinschaefer 2005). This pattern is available for all CENs, as shown by the examples in (22) and (1), compare with (17).

    1. (22)
    1. a.
    1. l’
    2. the.SG
    1. invasion
    2. invasion
    1. fréquente
    2. frequent
    1. du pays
    2. of.the country
    1. ‘the frequent invasion of the country’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. le
    2. the.SG
    1. bombardement
    2. bombing
    1. répété
    2. repeated
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. ‘the repeated bombing of the city’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. la
    2. the.SG
    1. rénovation
    2. renovation
    1. régulière
    2. regular
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’appartement
    2. the flat
    1. ‘the regular renovation of the flat’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. le
    2. the.SG
    1. lavage
    2. washing
    1. trop
    2. too
    1. fréquent
    2. frequent
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. chemise
    2. shirt
    1. ‘the too frequent washing of the shirt’

Second, it can be marked by nominal plural, possibly combined with frequency markers. Yet, as shown by the behavior of protection ‘protection’, possession ‘possession’ and conduite ‘driving’, that cannot occur in the plural, this pattern is more restricted.

It is worth noting here that [–count] CENs do not behave as regular mass nouns. This is shown by the fact that they cannot be introduced by the partitive article, a question that will be addressed in Section 4.2.2.

(23) a. *de l’PART.ART. expression de ses sentiments [comp. (15a)]
      ‘expression of one’s feelings’  
  b. *de laPART.ART possession d’une voiture (par 62 personnes) [comp. (21a)]
      ‘possession of a car (by 62 people)’  
  c. *de laPART.ART. conduite du camion (par le chauffeur) [comp. (21b)]
      ‘driving of the truck (by the driver)’  
  d. *de laPART.ART. protection des civils [comp. (21c)]
      ‘protection of the civilians’  

These data raise the question of the origins of the [±count] character of CENs. This is examined in the following section.

3 Conditions for pluralization

3.1 Boundedness, [± count] and telicity

The origin of [±count] properties of nouns describing events is a longstanding debate, originating in authors such as Bach (1976) or Mourelatos (1978). A general view is to subsume count and aspectual properties under the more general notion of boundedness. In such a view, count nouns (or singular count nouns, if grammatical features are included, as in Jackendoff 1991), are considered as bounded. In the verbal domain, telic events (Bach 1976; Krifka 1989), perfective events (Mourelatos 1978) or both (Jackendoff 1991) are viewed as bounded. Conversely, plural and mass nouns, as well as atelic events and imperfective viewpoint are characterized as unbounded.

Leaving aside perfectivity (but see Knittel 2016a), we could find a logical correlation between [+count] nouns and [+telic] events: a CEN referring to a telic event should appear as a count noun, and consequently be able to occur in the plural, whereas atelic events should be nominalized as [–count] CENs, a point of view also assumed by Alexiadou et al. (2010a; b). As a consequence, if the above contention is correct, we should expect the partitioning in Table 2.

[–bounded] [+bounded]

Events [–telic] [+telic]
CENs [–count] [+count]
Aspectual classes - Activities
- States
- Accomplishments
- Achievements

Table 2

Expected correlation between [±count] and [±telic].

In the next subsection however, we show that this prediction is not completely borne out.

3.2 Count atelic CENs

3.2.1 Activities

As we have just seen, if the reflex of atelicity in the nominal domain is the [–count] feature, we expect activity CENs to be unable to occur in the plural. However, all French activity nominals do not behave in the same manner.

Similarly to expression ‘expression’ (15b) and conduite ‘driving’ (21b), CENs such as étude ‘study’ (24), fréquentation ‘attendance’ (25) and pratique ‘practice’ (26), all derived from activity verbs, reject plural.

    1. (24)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. scientifiques
    2. scientists
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. étudié
    2. studied
    1. ce
    2. this
    1. phénomène
    2. phenomenon
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 10 ans.
    2. 10 years
    1. ‘The scientists studied this phenomenon {*in/for} ten years.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {l’
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. étude(*s)
    2. study(.*PL)
    1. du
    2. of.the
    1. phénomène
    2. phenomenon
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. scientifiques)
    2. scientists)
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 10 ans
    2. 10 years
    1. ‘the {study/*studies} of this phenomenon (by scientists) {*in/for} 10 years’
    1. (25)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. étudiants
    2. students
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. fréquenté
    2. attended
    1. ce
    2. this
    1. bar
    2. bar
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 6 mois.
    2. 6 months
    1. ‘The students attended this bar {*in/for} six months.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. fréquentation(*s)
    2. attendance(.*PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. ce
    2. this
    1. bar
    2. bar
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. étudiants)
    2. students)
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 6 mois
    2. 6 months
    1. ‘the attendance(*s) of this bar (by the students) {*in/for} 6 months’
    1. (26)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. élèves
    2. pupils
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. pratiqué
    2. practiced
    1. la
    2. the
    1. musique
    2. music
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. un
    2. one
    1. an.
    2. year
    1. ‘The pupils practiced music {*in/for} one year.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. pratique(*s)
    2. practice(.*PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. musique
    2. music
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. élèves)
    2. pupils)
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. un
    2. one
    1. an
    2. year
    1. ‘the practice(*s) of music by the pupils{*in/for} one year’

Note that for these nominals, the unacceptability of plural marking relies on their CEN status. As shown in (27), étude(s), fréquentation(s) and pratique(s) do occur in the plural. However, in such cases, they do not behave as CENs. In (27a, b), the internal argument is absent and the external argument is introduced by de instead of par, which reveals that these nouns are SENs (see Table (1)). As for fréquentations (27c), it refers to (a group of) participants, and has no event reading.

    1. (27)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. The.PL
    1. études
    2. study.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. duré
    2. lasted
    1. 5 ans.
    2. 5 years
    1. ‘Max’s studies lasted 5 years.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Les
    2. The.PL
    1. pratiques
    2. practice.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’expert
    2. the expert
    1. sont
    2. are
    1. fiables.
    2. reliable.PL
    1. ‘The expert’s practices are reliable.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Les
    2. The.PL
    1. fréquentations
    2. attendance.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. sont
    2. are
    1. douteuses.
    2. questionable.PL
    1. ‘Max’s acquaintances are questionable.’

Contrary to the above CENs, démontage ‘disassembling’ (28) and rénovation ‘renovation’ (29), also derived from atelic VPs, behave as count nouns and occur in the plural, even though their atelicity is maintained, as shown by the acceptability of pendant PPs.

    1. (28)
    1. a.
    1. Il
    2. he
    1. a
    2. has
    1. démonté
    2. disassembled
    1. des
    2. INDEF.PL.ART
    1. meubles
    2. furniture
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures.
    2. hours
    1. ‘He disassembled furniture {*in/for} two hours.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {le
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. démontage(s)
    2. disassembling(.PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. meubles
    2. furniture
    1. (pendant
    2. (for
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures)
    2. hours)
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. Max).
    2. Max)
    1. ‘the disassembling(s) of furniture (for two hours) (by Max)’
    1. (29)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. ouvriers
    2. workers
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. rénové
    2. renovated
    1. des appartements
    2. INDEF.PL.ART flats
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 ans.
    2. 2 years
    1. ‘The workers renovated flats {*in/for} 2 years.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. rénovation(s)
    2. renovation(.PL)
    1. d’appartements
    2. of flats
    1. (pendant
    2. (for
    1. 2 ans)
    2. 2 years)
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. ouvriers)
    2. workers)
    1. ‘the renovation(s) of flats (for two years) (by the workers)’

The major difference between the CENs in (24–26) on the one hand and those in (28–29) on the other hand lies in the fact that the latter derive from verbs exhibiting telicity alternation according to the properties of their objects. The telic counterparts of (28a) and (29a) are provided in (30), where only en PPs can measure the duration of the whole event.

    1. (30)
    1. a.
    1. Il
    2. he
    1. a
    2. has
    1. démonté
    2. disassembled
    1. l’armoire
    2. the closet
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures.
    2. hours
    1. ‘He disassembled the closet {in/≠ for} two hours.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. ouvriers
    2. workers
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. rénové
    2. renovated
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. appartements
    2. flats
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 6 mois.
    2. 6 months
    1. ‘The workers renovated two flats {in/≠ for} 6 months.’

In (30), telicity is triggered by the presence in object position of count nominals introduced by numerals or definite determiners, that is, objects specified for quantity ([+SQO], Verkuyl 1972). If the objects are indefinite plural, i.e. [-SQO], as in (28–29), the structures are atelic. The same holds with mass objects, as shown in (31–32).

    1. (31)
    1. a.
    1. Le
    2. the
    1. secrétaire
    2. secretary
    1. a
    2. has
    1. rédigé
    2. written
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. lettres
    2. letters
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *pendant}
    2. *for}
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures.
    2. hours
    1. ‘The secretary wrote two letters {in/*for} two hours.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Le
    2. the
    1. secrétaire
    2. secretary
    1. a
    2. has
    1. rédigé
    2. written
    1. du
    2. PART.ART
    1. courrier
    2. mail
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures.
    2. hours
    1. ‘The secretary wrote mail {*in/for} two hours.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. la
    2. the
    1. rédaction
    2. writing
    1. de
    2. of
    1. courrier
    2. mail
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. secrétaire)
    2. secretary)
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. heures.
    2. hours
    1. ‘the writing of mail (by the secretary) {*in/for} two hours.’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. Les
    2. the.PL
    1. redactions
    2. writing.PL
    1. de
    2. of.PART.ART
    1. courrier
    2. mail
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. secrétaire)
    2. secretary)
    1. (ont
    2. (take
    1. lieu
    2. place
    1. chaque
    2. every
    1. matin.)
    2. morning)
    1. Lit.: ‘The writings of mail (by the secretary) (take place every morning.)’
    2. (i.e. ‘Mail writing sessions (by the secretary) (take place every morning.)’
    1. (32)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. bûcherons
    2. loggers
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. récolté
    2. harvested
    1. 500
    2. 500
    1. kilos
    2. kilos
    1. de
    2. of
    1. bois
    2. wood
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *pendant}
    2. *for}
    1. un
    2. one
    1. jour.
    2. day
    1. ‘The loggers harvested 500 kilos of wood {in/*for} one day.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. bûcherons
    2. loggers
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. récolté
    2. harvested
    1. du
    2. PART.ART
    1. bois
    2. wood
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. jours.
    2. days
    1. ‘The loggers harvested wood {*in/for} two days.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. la
    2. the
    1. récolte
    2. harvesting
    1. de
    2. of
    1. bois
    2. wood
    1. (par
    2. by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. bûcherons)
    2. loggers
    1. {*in
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. jours.
    2. days
    1. ‘the harvesting of wood (by the loggers) {*in/for} two days.’
    1.  
    1. d.
    1. les
    2. the.PL
    1. récoltes
    2. harvesting.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. bois
    2. wood
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. bûcherons)
    2. loggers)
    1. (ont
    2. (take
    1. lieu
    2. place
    1. en
    2. in
    1. hiver.)
    2. winter)
    1. Lit.: ‘The harvestings of wood (by the loggers) (take place in the winter.)’
    2. (i.e. ‘Wood harvesting sessions (by the loggers) (take place in the winter.)’

In examples (31d), (32d), as in (28b) and (29b), the use of the plural triggers a semantic shift, labelled “instance reading” in Knittel (2010). In these examples, the CENs denote several temporally disjoint instances of the event, in the same manner as the plural with concrete count nouns forces reference to several distinct objects.

To sum up, we observe here a striking contrast between the CENs in (24–26) on the one hand and those in (28–29) and (31–32) on the other hand, since only the latter occur in the plural. As we have seen, this contrast is linked to the different properties of the base verbs. In the case of étude ‘study’, fréquentation ‘attendance’ and pratique ‘practice’ (24–26), the base verbs describe only activities. Conversely, démontage ‘disassembling’, rénovation ‘renovation’, rédaction ‘writing’ and récolte ‘harvesting’ (28–29, 31–32) derive from verbs for which the +/– value of telicity relies on the properties of their objects. This telicity alternation is not observed with étudier, fréquenter and pratiquer. In (24–26), pendant PPs show that these verbs are atelic in spite of their [+SQ] object. Consequently, they qualify as push-verb (Verkuyl 1993).

It seems, then, that among CENs nominalizing atelic VPs, only those that are derived from verbs that also have a telic use can pluralize. In other words, it is not the actual telicity of the nominalized VP that has to be taken into account, but rather the availability of a telic counterpart. Observe also that the nominalizing affix has no influence on this phenomenon, contrary to what can be observed in other languages (see Alexiadou et al. 2010a; b).

This hypothesis is confirmed by the behavior of CENs such as visite ‘visit’, vérification ‘checking’ and aération ‘airing’. These inherit from their base VPs the property of being ambiguous for telicity, as shown in the (a) examples of (33–35), where en and pendant PPs are both possible.

    1. (33)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. The
    1. touristes
    2. tourists
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. visité
    2. visited
    1. la
    2. the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 heures.
    2. 2 hours
    1. ‘The tourists visited the city {in/for} 2 hours.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. visite(s)
    2. visit(.PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. par
    2. by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. touristes
    2. tourists
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2
    2. 2
    1. heures
    2. hours)
    1. ‘the visit(s) of the city by the tourists (in/for 2 hours)’
    1. (34)
    1. a.
    1. L’inspecteur
    2. the inspector
    1. a
    2. has
    1. vérifié
    2. checked
    1. l’installation
    2. the setup
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2
    2. 2
    1. heures.
    2. hours
    1. ‘The inspector has checked the setup {in/for} 2 hours.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {le
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. vérification(s)
    2. checking(.PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’installation
    2. the setup
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 heures
    2. 2 hours
    1. ‘the checking(s) of the setup {in/for} 2 hours’
    1. (35)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. pompiers
    2. firemen
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. ventilé
    2. aired
    1. la
    2. the
    1. cave
    2. basement
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 heures.
    2. 2 hours’
    1. ‘The firemen aired the basement {in/for} 2 hours.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. ventilation(s)
    2. airing(.PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. cave
    2. basement
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. pompiers)
    2. firemen)
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 heures
    2. 2 hours
    1. ‘the airing(s) of the basement (by the firemen) {in/for} 2 hours’

The (b) examples of (33–35) show that the CENs derived from these ambiguous verbs occur in the plural, and thus behave as count nouns. This confirms the hypothesis put forward above, that the plural is available when the predicate can be construed as telic.

As a matter of fact, this behavior contradicts the analysis that links the [+count] value to the actual telicity of the VP, as presented in Table 2. What has to be taken into account to explain the [±count] properties of the above CENs is the possibility for the base verb to be telic. This explains why push-verbs do not produce count CENs. Conversely, if the base can have a telic value, as is the case for the verbs whose telicity alternates along with the [±SQ] feature of their objects (28–32), and for verbs ambiguous for telicity (33–35), count CENs are systematically possible. It seems then, that inherently unbounded (i.e. atelic) verbs can only result in inherently unbounded (i.e. mass) nominals.

Now, apart from activities, states constitute a second class of atelic predicates. We should then expect their behavior to provide a confirmation of the above hypothesis. The properties of stative CENs are examined in the following section.

3.2.2 States

As is the case for activities in (24–26), French exhibits CENs derived from stative verbs that reject pluralization. This is the case for possession ‘possession’, exemplified in (21), and for détention ‘detention’ (36), ignorance ‘ignorance’ (37) and protection ‘protection’ (38). As was the case with posséder, the unacceptability of dynamic adverbs and of the French progressive être en train de with the verbs détenir ‘to hold’, ignorer ‘to ignore’ and protéger ‘to protect’ guarantees their stative character. Stativity also prevents the use of these CENs (or of a corresponding pronoun) as subject of avoir lieu (‘to take place’), arriver and se produire (‘to happen’) (Maienborn 2003). Finally, the situations described display the subinterval property; they are perceived as holding without interruption between their initial and final boundaries.13

    1. (36)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. gardiens
    2. guards
    1. {détiennent
    2. {hold
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *sont en train de détenir}
    2. *are holding}
    1. les
    2. the
    1. clés
    2. keys
    1. (*lentement).
    2. (*slowly)
    1. *Cela
    2. *this
    1. a
    2. takes
    1. lieu
    2. place
    1. la
    2. at
    1. nuit.
    2. night
    1. ‘The guards (*slowly) hold the keys. *This takes place at night.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *les}
    2. *the.PL}
    1. (*lente(s))
    2. slow
    1. détention(*s)
    2. detention(.*PL)
    1. des
    2. of.the
    1. clés
    2. keys
    1. par
    2. by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. gardiens
    2. guards
    1. (*a eu
    2. (took
    1. lieu
    2. place
    1. hier.)
    2. yesterday)
    1. ‘The (*slow) detention of the keys by the guards (*took place yesterday.)’
    1. (37)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. politiciens
    2. politicians
    1. {ignorent
    2. {ignore
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *sont en train
    2. *are
    1. d’ignorer}
    2. ignoring}
    1. ces
    2. these
    1. problèmes
    2. issues
    1. (*rapidement).
    2. (*quickly)
    1. *Cela
    2. *this
    1. arrive
    2. happens
    1. à
    2. on
    1. la télé.
    2. TV
    1. ‘Politicians (*quickly) ignore these issues. *This happens on TV.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {L’
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *les}
    2. *the.PL}
    1. ignorance(*s)
    2. ignorance(.*PL)
    1. (*rapide(s))
    2. (*quick)
    1. de
    2. of.
    1. ces
    2. these
    1. problèmes
    2. issues
    1. par
    2. by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. politiciens
    2. politicians
    1. (*arrive
    2. (*happens
    1. à
    2. at
    1. la
    2. the
    1. télé.)
    2. TV)
    1. ‘The (*quick) ignorance of these issues by politicians (*happens on TV.)’
    1. (38)
    1. a.
    1. Un mot de passe
    2. a password
    1. {protège
    2. {protects
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *est en train de
    2. *is
    1. protéger}
    2. protecting}
    1. (*lentement)
    2. (*slowly)
    1. ces
    2. these
    1. documents.
    2. documents
    1. *Cela
    2. *this
    1. se produit
    2. happens
    1. tous les jours.
    2. every day
    1. ‘A password (*slowly) protects these documents. *This happens every day.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la/*les}
    2. {the.SG/*the.PL}
    1. (*lente(s))
    2. (*slow)
    1. protection(*s)
    2. protection(.*PL)
    1. de
    2. of.
    1. ces
    2. these
    1. documents
    2. documents
    1. par
    2. by
    1. un
    2. a password
    1. mot de passe
    2.  
    1. (*se produit
    2. (*happens
    1. chaque
    2. every
    1. jour.)
    2. day)
    1. ‘The (*slow) protection of these documents by a password (*happens every day.)’

The unavailability of the plural for the above CENs is reminiscent of what we have observed for push-verbs in (24-26). In both cases, this property is linked with the strict atelicity of the predicate.

Now, if the behavior of stative CENs parallels that of activity CENs, we should expect for CENs derived from verbs that are not strictly stative to occur in the plural. This predication is indeed borne out.

Consider the verbs bloquer ‘to block’, fermer ‘to close’ and inonder ‘to flood’. These verbs qualify as inchoative predicates (Kratzer 2000; Arad 2002; Rothmayr 2009; Fábregas & Marín 2012; see also Fradin 2012 for French), that is, predicates ambiguous between a telic and a stative reading with a resultative value. The examples in (39) illustrate the stative value.

    1. (39)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. manifestants
    2. demonstrators
    1. {ont
    2. {have
    1. bloqué
    2. blocked
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *ont
    2. *have
    1. été en train de bloquer}
    2. been blocking}
    1. (*progressivement)
    2. (*progressively)
    1. l’autoroute
    2. the highway
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 2 heures.
    2. 2 hours
    1. ‘The demonstrators (*progressively) blocked the highway for 2 hours.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Le
    2. the
    1. propriétaire
    2. owner
    1. {a
    2. {has
    1. fermé
    2. closed
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *a
    2. *has
    1. été en train de fermer}
    2. been closing}
    1. le
    2. the
    1. magasin
    2. shop
    1. (*petit
    2. little
    1. à
    2. by
    1. petit)
    2. little
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 2 heures.
    2. 2 hours
    1. ‘The owner closed the shop (*little by little) for 2 hours.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. La
    2. the
    1. rivière
    2. river
    1. {a
    2. {has
    1. inondé
    2. flooded
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *a
    2. *has
    1. été en train d’inonder}
    2. been flooding}
    1. (*lentement)
    2. (*slowly)
    1. la
    2. the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 2 jours.
    2. 2 days
    1. ‘The river (*slowly) flooded the city for two days.’

As states, these verbs admit pendant PPs, but do not combine with the progressive en train de and dynamic adverbs, similarly to examples (36–38). As before, the events described display the strict subinterval property: when denoting states, the blocking of the highway, the closing of the shop and the flooding of the city are perceived as holding without interruption for the duration specified by the pendant PP.14 As observed by Fábregas & Marín (2012), this PP also measures the duration of the state in which the participant denoted by the object remains.

The accomplishment reading of these verbs is illustrated in the examples (40). With this value, dynamic adverbs as well as en PPs are fully acceptable. Contrary to (39), such events do not present homogenous reference: here, the blocking of the highway, the closing of the shop and the flooding of the city are perceived as events constituted of heterogeneous internal stages, leading to the resulting state.

    1. (40)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. manifestants
    2. demonstrators
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. bloqué
    2. blocked
    1. l’ autoroute
    2. the highway
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. 15 minutes
    2. 15 minutes
    1. /
    2. /
    1. très
    2. very
    1. vite}.
    2. quickly}
    1. ‘The demonstrators blocked the highway {in 15 minutes/very quickly}.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Le
    2. the
    1. propriétaire
    2. owner
    1. a
    2. has
    1. fermé
    2. closed
    1. le
    2. the
    1. magasin
    2. shop
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. 5 minutes
    2. 5 minutes
    1. /
    2. /
    1. rapidement}.
    2. quickly}
    1. ‘The owner closed the shop {in 5 minutes/quickly}.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. La
    2. the
    1. rivière
    2. river
    1. a
    2. has
    1. inondé
    2. flooded
    1. la
    2. the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. {en
    2. {in
    1. 2 heures
    2. 2 hours
    1. /
    2. /
    1. lentement}.
    2. slowly}
    1. ‘The river flooded the city {in 2 hours/slowly}.’

Let us now consider the CENs blocage ‘blocking’, fermeture ‘closing’, and inondation ‘flooding’. Like the corresponding verbs, these exhibit either a stative or an accomplishment reading. Following from the behavior of activity CENs provided in the preceding section, we expect the plural to be available with both aspectual values. This prediction is indeed borne out, as shown in examples (41–42).

    1. (41)
    1. a.
    1. {le
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. blocage(s)
    2. blocking(.PL)
    1. (*progressifs)
    2. (*progressive)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’autoroute
    2. the highway
    1. par
    2. by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. manifestants
    2. demonstrators
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 heures
    2. 2 hours
    1. ‘the (*progressive) blocking(s) of the highway by the demonstrators {*in/for} 2 hours’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. fermeture(s)
    2. closing(.PL)
    1. (*rapides)
    2. (*quick)
    1. du
    2. of.the
    1. magasin
    2. shop
    1. par
    2. by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. propriétaire
    2. owner
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 heures
    2. 2 hours
    1. ‘the (*quick) closing(s) of the shop by the owner {*in/for} two hours’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. {l’
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. the.PL}
    2. les}
    1. inondation(s)
    2. flooding(.PL)
    1. (*lentes)
    2. (*slow)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. par
    2. by
    1. la
    2. the
    1. rivière
    2. river
    1. {*en
    2. {*in
    1. /
    2. /
    1. pendant}
    2. for}
    1. 2 jours
    2. 2 days
    1. ‘the flooding(s) of the city by the river {*in/for} 2 days’
    1. (42)
    1. a.
    1. {le
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. blocage(s)
    2. blocking(.PL)
    1. progressifs
    2. progressive
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’autoroute
    2. the highway
    1. par
    2. by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. manifestants
    2. demonstrators
    1. (*pendant
    2. (*for
    1. 2 heures)
    2. 2 hours)
    1. ‘the progressive blocking(s) of the highway by the demonstrators (*for 2 hours)’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. fermeture(s)
    2. closing(.PL)
    1. rapides
    2. quick
    1. du
    2. of.the
    1. magasin
    2. shop
    1. par
    2. by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. propriétaire
    2. owner
    1. (*pendant
    2. (*for
    1. 2 minutes)
    2. 2 minutes)
    1. ‘the quick closing(s) of the shop by the owner (*for two minutes)’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. {l’
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. les}
    2. the.PL}
    1. lentes
    2. slow
    1. inondation(s)
    2. flooding(.PL)
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. par
    2. by
    1. la
    2. the
    1. rivière
    2. river
    1. (*pendant
    2. (*for
    1. 2 days)
    2. 2 days)
    1. ‘the slow flooding(s) of the city by the river (*for 2 days)’

In examples (42), dynamic adjectives are possible, and the unavailability of pendant PPs ensures that the CENs behave as accomplishments. Conversely, in (41), stativity is guaranteed by the unacceptability of dynamic adverbs, and the pendant PPs measures the duration of the state. As expected, the CENs can occur in the plural in both cases, and contrast with the strictly stative CENs in (36–38), for which plural is impossible.

Observe also that the states described in (39) are conceived as reversible. According to Fábregas & Marín (2012), this condition has to be fulfilled for the CENs deriving from inchoatives to exhibit a stative value. The French data presented here confirm this analysis. Note finally that, as was the case for activities, the nominalizing affix has no influence on the (a)telicity of the derived nominal.

3.2.3 Summary

In the above subsections, we have shown that activity and stative CENs exhibit two distinct behaviors. On the one hand, we find CENs that do not pluralize and, consequently, behave only as mass nouns. These are derived from strictly atelic verbs, such as pure states and push-verbs. On the other hand, we have also observed CENs that occur in the plural, thus qualifying as count nouns. In this case, the base verbs can be construed as telic as well as atelic. This is the case for inchoatives, that have an accomplishment reading besides their stative reading, for verbs ambiguous between an activity and an accomplishment value, and for verbs whose telicity relies on the [±SQ] feature of their objects. For these classes, [+count] CENs occur as nominalizations of both telic and atelic VPs, whether states or activities, contrary to what would be expected if the actual telicity of the structure were relevant. Rather, the [±count] character of CENs relies on the properties of the underlying verbal predicates. More precisely, [–count] CENs, for which plural marking is impossible, derive from verbal predicates that have no telic use at all ([-Telic]), whereas CENs appear as [+count] if the telicity of the verb can have a positive value ([±Telic]). In other words, it is the inherently unbounded character of the verbal predicates that is reflected by nominal unboundedness.

Consequently, we summarize the distribution of French plural CENs in Table 3:

Events [-telic] [±telic]

Aspectual classes - Push-Verbs
- Pure States
- [+SQO] Verbs
- Inchoatives Verbs
- Ambiguous Verbs

CENs [-count] [±count]

Table 3

The distribution of plural CENs.

In the following section, we show that this issue can be dealt with on syntactic bases.

4 A syntactic analysis of Number properties of French CENs

As was seen in Section 2.1, the aspectual properties of event nominals can be analyzed in two manners, depending on the source of the eventuality they convey. For SENs, eventivity does not rely on an internal verbal structure. In such a case, boundedness has to be understood as a conceptual feature, since it is not linked to the presence of a specific syntactic structure. In contrast, for nominal containing verbal projections, as is the case with CENs, (a)telicity is due to the presence or absence of some projection responsible for this feature.

In fact, the correlation between atelicity and [–count] properties described above is proper to CENs. As the following examples show, nominals describing atelic SENs, whether states or activities, can—and sometimes must—occur in the plural (see Haas et al. 2008; Heyd & Knittel 2009; Huyghe 2011; Knittel 2016b). Thus, the activity nominal discussion ‘discussion’ occurs in the plural when referring to several events (43). Another case is illustrated by applaudissements ‘applauses’ (44), which is strictly plural, despite its atelic character.15 As for the stative noun amour ‘love’ (45), it can be used in the singular and in the plural, without any semantic change.

    1. (43)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. participants
    2. participants
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. discuté
    2. discussed
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 2 heures
    2. 2 hours
    1. chaque
    2. every
    1. matin.
    2. morning
    1. ‘The participants discussed for 2 hours every morning.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Les
    2. The.PL
    1. discussions
    2. discussion.PL
    1. entre
    2. between
    1. les
    2. the
    1. participants
    2. participants
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. duré
    2. lasted
    1. 2 heures
    2. 2 hours
    1. chaque
    2. every
    1. matin.
    2. morning
    1. ‘The discussions between the participants lasted 2 hours every morning.’
    1. (44)
    1. a.
    1. Le
    2. the
    1. public
    2. audience
    1. a
    2. has
    1. applaudi
    2. applauded
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 5 minutes.
    2. 5 minutes
    1. ‘The audience applauded for 5 minutes.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Les
    2. The.PL
    1. applaudissements
    2. applause.PL
    1. du
    2. of.the
    1. public
    2. audience
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. duré
    2. lasted
    1. 5 minutes.
    2. 5 minutes
    1. ‘The audience’s applauses lasted 5 minutes.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. *L’applaudissement
    2. the applause
    1. du
    2. of.the
    1. public
    2. audience
    1. a
    2. has
    1. duré
    2. lasted
    1. 5 minutes.
    2. 5 minutes
    1. (45)
    1. a.
    1. Paul
    2. Paul
    1. et
    2. and
    1. Marie
    2. Mary
    1. se sont
    2. REFL.are
    1. aimés
    2. loved
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 15 ans.
    2. 15 years
    1. ‘Paul and Marie loved each other for 15 years.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. L’
    2. the
    1. amour
    2. love
    1. de
    2. of
    1. Paul
    2. Paul
    1. et
    2. and
    1. Marie
    2. Marie
    1. a
    2. has
    1. duré
    2. lasted
    1. 15 ans.
    2. 15 years
    1. ‘Paul and Mary’s love (for each other) lasted 15 years.’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. Les
    2. The.PL
    1. amours
    2. love.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. Paul
    2. Paul
    1. et
    2. and
    1. Marie
    2. Marie
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. duré
    2. lasted
    1. 15 ans.
    2. 15 years
    1. ‘Paul and Mary’s love (for each other) lasted 15 years.’

The difference between SENs and CENs with regards to plural use reveals that the restriction on plural atelic CENs has to be viewed as having a syntactic origin. If it were indeed atelicity, understood as a conceptual feature, that were at stake, we would expect all atelic ENs, disregarding their simple or complex nature, to behave alike, which is not the case. Rather, the distinction between atelic ENs that occur in the plural and those that do not lies in the fact that only the latter have an internal verbal structure. As will be explained below, we indeed consider that CENs, as opposed to SENs, have internal verbal layers, and that their nominal properties are due to the presence of nominal projections dominating the verbal layers.

Consequently, the analysis of the phenomenon under examination has to be twofold. In order to understand where the difference between [+count] and [–count] CENs origins, a syntactic description of strictly atelic verbal structures on the one hand and of verbs exhibiting telicity variation on the other hand is needed. Second, the presence or absence of nominal plurality indicates that CENs are genuine nouns (see Alexiadou et al. 2010a; b for a discussion), whose specific nominal projections have to be examined.

4.1 Verbal layers

As mentioned above, we consider that CENs have internal verbal layers. Their structure is composed by a categorially unspecified root √ (Harley 2009), dominated by vP and VoiceP, as shown in (46).

(46) [ Voice [ v [√] ]vP ]VoiceP

vP is the projection of eventivity and the locus of the internal argument merging. VoiceP is the projection where the external argument merges (Kratzer 1996; 2000; Husband 2012), and its head can either be [+Agentive] or [–Agentive].

To account for verbal telicity, we adopt the hypothesis of an aspectual projection AspQP merging between vP and VoiceP (see Borer 1993; 2005; Egerland 1998; Travis 2010). The head of this projection encodes a [+bounded] feature, which reacts to the [±SQ] property (see Section 3.2.1.) of the DP merging in its specifier. If the nominal is [+SQ], the [+bounded] feature of AspQ receives a positive value, resulting in [+telic] value. Conversely, if the nominal in Spec,AspQP is [–SQ], the structure is atelic. The presence of this projection accounts for potentially telic VPs, that is, VPs exhibiting telicity alternations. Since push-verbs have no telic reading at all, we consider that AspQP is not projected (but see Borer 2005 for a discussion).

We can now describe the various internal verbal structures of the examples examined in the previous sections.

(47) a. [ VoiceActive [ v [√] ]vP ]VoiceP
  b. [ VoiceActive [ AspQ [ v [√] ]vP ]AspQP ]VoiceP
  c. [ VoiceStative [ v [√] ]vP ]VoiceP

Structure (47a) corresponds to push-verbs (étudier ‘to study’ (24), fréquenter ‘to attend’ (25), pratiquer ‘to practice’ (26)), which have Initiators subjects (Ramchand 2008) and are always atelic, due to the absence of AspQP.

Structure (47b) describes dynamic verbs exhibiting telicity variation, such as verbs reacting to their the properties of their objects (démonter ‘to disassemble’ (28), rénover ‘to renovate’ (29), rédiger ‘to write’ (31), récolter ‘to harvest’ (32)), or aspectually ambiguous (visiter ‘to visit’ (33), vérifier ‘to check’ (34), aérer ‘to air’ (35)). For this last class, we ascribe the potential atelicity of such predicates even in the presence of a [+SQ] object to the fact that the specifier of AspQP is not projected. (47b) is also the structure of inchoative verbs in their accomplishment construal.

Finally, (47c) is the structure of pure states and stative inchoatives. Similarly to push-verbs (49), states (48) are always atelic, irrespective of [±SQ] feature of their objects:

    1. (48)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. manifestants
    2. demonstrators
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. bloqué
    2. blocked
    1. {une
    2. {one
    1. route
    2. road
    1. /
    2. /
    1. des
    2. INDEF.PL.ART
    1. routes}
    2. roads}
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 2
    2. two
    1. heures.
    2. hours
    1. ‘The demonstrators blocked {a road/roads} for two hours.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. La
    2. the
    1. rivière
    2. river
    1. a
    2. has
    1. inondé
    2. flooded
    1. {la
    2. {the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. /
    2. /
    1. des
    2. INDEF.PL.ART
    1. villes}
    2. cities}
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 2
    2. 2
    1. jours.
    2. days
    1. ‘The river flooded {the city/cities} for 2 days.’
    1. (49)
    1. a.
    1. Les
    2. the
    1. étudiants
    2. students
    1. ont
    2. have
    1. fréquenté
    2. attended
    1. {ce
    2. {this
    1. bar
    2. bar
    1. /
    2. /
    1. des
    2. INDEF.PL.ART
    1. bars}
    2. bars}
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 6
    2. 6
    1. mois.
    2. months
    1. ‘The students attended {this bar/bars} for six months.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. Max
    2. Max
    1. a
    2. has
    1. conduit
    2. driven
    1. {son
    2. {his
    1. camion
    2. truck
    1. /
    2. /
    1. des
    2. INDEF.PL.ART
    1. camions}
    2. trucks}
    1. pendant
    2. for
    1. 10 ans.
    2. 10 years
    1. ‘Max drove {his truck/trucks} for 10 years.’

The verbal predicates in (48) and (49) share the property of combining only with durative PPs introduced by pendant (vs en), which measure either the duration of the event with push-verbs (49) or that of the resulting state with stative inchoatives (48). We consider that these classes only differ by the Active/Stative feature of their Voice component. Since telicity is irrelevant for states (Smith 1991), we hypothesize that a Stative VoiceP cannot select AspQP as its complement.

Consequently, and disregarding the Active/Stative feature on VoiceP, we suggest that we are facing two types of verbal structures. The first contains two projections, i.e. vP and VoiceP, and corresponds to strictly atelic verbs. The second also contains AspQP, and corresponds to potentially telic verbal predicates.

We are now able to provide an explanation for the distribution of the [±count] feature in CENs.

Consider first pure states and push-verbs. The corresponding CENs have been analyzed as [–count], since they never occur in the plural (see (24)–(26) for push-verbs and (33)–(35) for states). Conversely, all verbs deriving [+count] CENs contain AspQP in their structure. This is the case for inchoative verbs (41)–(42) and verbs exhibiting telicity alternation (28)–(30). Consequently, the origin of the [±count] distinction, which explains in turn the availability of plural marking, is the presence of this projection at the verbal level, and not the [±SQ] feature of the argument in its specifier, since, as shown above, atelic CENs do occur in the plural if they have a telic counterpart.

In what follows, we examine the nominal layers in CENs in relation with the verbal layers, in particular AspQP.

4.2 Nominal layers

Although they have an internal verbal structure, CENs are genuine nouns. They are nominalized by the means of various affixes (-age, -ion, -ure, etc.), which are also responsible for their Gender properties. Thus -age affixation derives masculine nominals, whereas -ion and -ure introduce feminine Gender. The nominal character of CENs is also guaranteed by the possible use of determiners and adjectives. To account for these properties, we assume that the VoiceP (see (47)) they contain is dominated by the nominalizing projection nP, which in turn enables the presence of DP, where definite determiners merge. Consequently, we consider (50) to be the basic structure of CENs.

(50) [ D [n [Voice]VoiceP ]nP ]DP

4.2.1 [+count] CENs

Like other [+count] nouns, we assume that [+count] CENs are dominated by a Cl(assifier)P (Borer 2005). Following Picallo (2006), we consider that ClP is obligatory in French for both [+count] and [–count] nouns (see Stark 2016 for a related hypothesis). With count nouns, ClP is dominated in turn by NumP, where the Number (i.e. singular or plural) feature merges.

As shown in the following examples, [+count] CENs can be used with numerals, which are currently considered as merging under QP (#P in Borer’s 2005 framework).

    1. (51)
    1.  
    1. a.
    1. (les)
    2. the.PL
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. rénovations
    2. renovation.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. l’appartement
    2. the flat
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. propriétaires)
    2. owners)
    1. ‘(the) two renovations of the flat (by the owners)’       [cf. (29)]
    1.  
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. (les)
    2. the.PL
    1. cinq
    2. five
    1. visites
    2. visit.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. monuments
    2. monuments
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. touristes)
    2. tourists)
    1. [cf. (33)]
    2.  
    1. ‘(the) five visits of monuments (by the tourists)’
    1.  
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. (les)
    2. the.PL
    1. deux
    2. two
    1. inondations
    2. flooding.PL
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. ville
    2. city
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. le
    2. the
    1. fleuve)
    2. river)
    1. [cf. (41)]
    2.  
    1. ‘(the) two floodings of the city (by the river)’
    1.  
    1. cf.
    1. d.
    1. (les)
    2. (the.PL)
    1. trois
    2. three
    1. livres
    2. books
    1. ‘the three books’

The above examples show that [+count] CENs contain a full-fledged functional structure, similarly to [+count] simple nouns, like livre ‘book’ in (51d). We can consequently represent their structure as in (52a). As shown by the comparison with (52b), they only distinguish from underived count nouns by their inner verbal projections.

(52) a. [ D [Q [Num [Cl [n [VoiceP] ]ClP ]NumP]QP ]DP ([+count] CEN)
  b. [ D [Q [Num [Cl [n [√]√P ]ClP ]NumP ]QP]DP ([+count] simple N)

Now, a possible analysis would be to consider that, for count CENs, NumP merges if the internal verbal structure contains AspQP. The presence of NumP in the nominal structure would then mirror that of AspQP in the internal verbal structure.

However, various authors have suggested a different explanation for similar phenomena in other languages. According to Wiltschko (2014) or Travis (1992), inner Aspect (i.e. AspQP) and the [±count] properties are the instantiation of the same feature in different domains, and do not co-occur. Similarly, Alexiadou et al. (2010a; b; 2011) consider that Aspect is not projected in CENs, but accommodated under ClP. Following these analyses, we will consider that ClP/NumP are the instantiations at the nominal level of the verbal projection AspQP. Thus, [+count] CENs derive from verbs for which telicity can receive a positive value, that is, verbs having AspQP in their inner projections.

Adopting such a point of view, we can now represent a [+count] CEN such as le/les blocage(e) de l’autoroute ‘the blocking(s) of the highway’ (41) as in (53a), and the corresponding VP as in (53b).

    1. (53)
    1. a.
    1.  
    1. b.

4.2.2 [–count] CENs

Let us now consider the behavior of [–count] CENs. As we mentioned in Section 2.3., when indefinite, these do not behave as regular mass nouns, whose behavior is illustrated in (54).

    1. (54)
    1. la
    2. DEF.ART
    1. bière
    2. beer
    1. /
    2.  
    1. de la
    2. PART.ART
    1. bière
    2. beer
    1. /
    2. /
    1. beaucoup
    2. a lot
    1. de
    2. of
    1. bière
    2. beer
    1. /
    2. /
    1. un
    2. a
    1. peu
    2. little
    1. de
    2. of
    1. bière
    2. beer
    1. ‘the beer; (some) beer; a lot of beer; a little beer’

Apart from definite articles, simple [–count] nouns can be introduced by quantity expressions such as beaucoup de ‘a lot’ or peu de ‘a little’, and the partitive article, which is the indefinite article typical of mass nouns. As can be seen in (55), indefinite mass nouns in argument position cannot be bare in French (Dobrovie-Sorin & Laca 2003), and are necessarily introduced by partitive articles.

(55) a.   J’ai bu *(de la) bière.
      ‘I drank beer.’
  b. *(De la) bière a coulé sur la table.
      ‘(Some) beer has been spilt on the table.’

To account for the above examples, we consider that Cl hosts the partitive article de as a default head. As for la and le, which constitute the second part of the partitive article (cf. de le = du pain ‘[some] bread’), we analyze them as Gender markers. The obligatory presence of partitive articles with mass nouns arises from the fact that ClP is obligatory for both mass and count nouns in French (see section 4.2.1.). Consequentely, we suggest the structure in (56) for simple [–count].

(56) [ deCl laFem [n [bière]√P ]nP ]ClP

Observe now the behavior of [–count] CENs with regards to articles and quantity expressions.

    1. (57)
    1. a.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *de la
    2. *PART.ART
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *un peu de}
    2. *a little}
    1. pratique
    2. practice
    1. de
    2. of
    1. la
    2. the
    1. musique
    2. music
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. élèves)
    2. pupils)
    1. ‘{the/*some/*a little} practice of music (by the pupils)’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *de la
    2. *PART.ART
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *beaucoup
    2. *a lot
    1. de}
    2. of}
    1. protection
    2. protection
    1. de
    2. of
    1. ces
    2. these
    1. documents
    2. documents
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. un
    2. a
    1. mot de passe)
    2. password)
    1. ‘{the/*some/*a lot of} protection of these documents (by a password)’
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *de la
    2. *PART.ART
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *un peu de}
    2. *a little}
    1. fréquentation
    2. attendance
    1. de
    2. of
    1. ce
    2. this
    1. bar
    2. bar
    1. (par
    2. (by
    1. les
    2. the
    1. étudiants)
    2. students)
    1. ‘{the/*some/*a little} attendance of this bar (by the students)’

Interestingly, the behavior of [–count] CENs does not parallel that of [–count] simple nouns. As shown in (57), they cannot be introduced by the partitive article, and do not admit quantity expressions either. As a matter of fact, the definite article is their only possible determiner. If we admit the current analysis that the definite article merges under D, we can suggest the structure in (58), where DP is the only projection dominating nP.

(58) [ D [n [VoiceP]nP ]DP

The unacceptability of quantity expressions with [–count] CENs is readily explained if we consider that the de element they contain also merges under Cl (59), like the partitive article.

(59) [beaucoupQ [deCl [bièrei [ti]√P ]nP ]ClP]QP

To sum up, we observe a striking contrast between [+count] and [–count] CENs on the one hand and between [–count] CENs and simple [–count] nominals on the other hand.

While [+count] CENs exhibit the typical behavior of nominal domains with full-fledged functional structure (DP, QP, NumP, ClP), DP is the only functional projection of [–count] CENs, which also differ from regular mass nouns by the absence of ClP. This, in turn, prevents the merging of QP.

Now, recall that in the previous section, we assumed that for CENs, the [±Telic] feature (see Table 3) is not instantiated as AspQP as is the case with verbs, but only at the nominal level, by ClP, which in turn enables the presence of NumP. Since [–count] CENs nominalize verbal structures that are deprived of AspQP, the absence of ClP is expected from our analysis. Finally, if the lack of ClP in CENs arises from the properties of the verbal structure under nP, we expect SENs to behave differently, due to the absence of verbal layers in their structure (see (53)). This is indeed the case, as shown in (60).

    1. (60)
    1. a.
    1.   Il
    2.   he
    1. a
    2. has
    1. {jardiné
    2. {gardened
    1. /
    2. /
    1. patiné
    2. skated
    1. /
    2. /
    1. tissé}
    2. weaved}
    1. {pendant
    2. {for
    1. /
    2. /
    1. *en}
    2. *in}
    1. 2 heures.
    2. 2 hours
    1.    ‘He {gardened/skated/weaved}{for/*in} 2 hours.’
    1.  
    1. b.
    1.   Il
    2.   he
    1. a
    2. has
    1. fait
    2. done
    1. {du
    2. {PART.ART
    1. /
    2. /
    1. beaucoup
    2. a lot
    1. de}
    2. of}
    1. {jardinage
    2. {gardening
    1. /
    2. /
    1. patinage
    2. skating
    1. /
    2. /
    1. tissage}.
    2. weaving}
    1.    ‘He did {gardening/skating/cooking}/a lot of {gardening/skating/weaving}’.
    1.  
    1. c.
    1. *Il
    2.   he
    1. a
    2. has
    1. fait
    2. done
    1. {un(e)
    2. {a
    1. /
    2. /
    1. plusieurs}
    2. several}
    1. {jardinage(s)
    2. {gardening(.PL)
    1. /
    2. /
    1. patinage(s)
    2. skating(.PL)
    1. /
    2. /
    1. tissage(s)}.
    2. weaving(.PL)}
    1. (61)
    1. {la
    2. {the.SG
    1. /
    2. /
    1. de la
    2. PART.ART
    1. /
    2. /
    1. un
    2. a
    1. peu de
    2. little
    1. /
    2. /
    1. beaucoup
    2. a lot
    1. de}
    2. of}
    1. {pratique
    2. {practice
    1. /
    2. /
    1. protection}
    2. protection}
    1. ‘{the/some/a little/a lot of} {practice/protection}

The examples in (60) show that [–count] SENs derived from atelic verbs, like jardinage ‘gardening’, patinage ‘skating’ and tissage ‘weaving’, do combine with partitive articles and quantity expressions (60b) in the same manner as underived mass nouns (54). The same holds for protection ‘protection’ and pratique ‘practice’ (61), when they appear without complements, i.e. as SENs but not as CENs (57), which is expected from our analysis. Thus, atelic SENs can project ClP, contrary to strictly atelic CENs. This contrast confirms the hypothesis that telicity, if understood as a conceptual feature, has no influence on the [±count] properties of deverbal event nominals, since we find both [+count] (cf. discussion ‘discussion’ in (43)) and [–count] SENs derived from atelic verbs (Haas et al. 2008; Huyghe 2011; Heyd & Knittel 2009)

Under the analysis adopted here (see section 4.2.1.), it is the nominal structure of [±count] CENs that accounts for the potential telicity of the verbal bases. For count CENs, the presence of ClP and NumP are instantiations of the aspectual projection as defined here (i.e. AspQP) in the corresponding verbal structure; for [–count] CENs, their absence reflects that of AspQP in the structure of the base verbs. Since AspQP never merges in nominal structures, the [±Telic] feature it encodes is reflected in the merging of ClP, NumP and possibly QP; conversely, the absence of these projections accounts for the absence of AspQP in the corresponding verbal domain.

We are now able to provide a full analysis of the [–count] CENs examined above. The representation in (62a) presents the structure of CENs derived from push-verbs (21), and that in (62b) corresponds to purely stative CENs (11), which both lack ClP and NumP.

    1. (62)
    1. a.
    1.  
    1. b.

5 Conclusion

In this paper, we have provided a detailed description of the properties of French CENs with regards to pluralization, and shown that CENs can occur in the plural, and thus behave as [+count] nouns. This is however not the case for those derived from strictly atelic verbs, such as push-verbs and pure states, that are [–count]. In such cases, reference to a plurality of events can only be indicated by the means of frequency expressions. Conversely, even atelic VPs produce [+count] nominals, provided they have a telic counterpart. This is the case for verbs exhibiting telicity alternation depending on the [±SQ] properties of their objects, for verbs ambiguous between a telic and an atelic construal, and for inchoatives, that are either states or accomplishments.

This has led us to restate the hypothesis originating in Bach (1976) and Krifka (1989), that the [±count] feature of Event Nominals reflects the (a)telicity of the corresponding verbs. As we have seen, SENs deriving from atelic bases can be [+count] or [–count]. In such cases, no correlation between telicity and the [±count] feature is observed. As for CENs, the availability of the plural relies on the potential telic value of the corresponding verb. In other words, it is the availability of telicity that is responsible for the [+count] use of CENs.

Since the above correlation between telicity and the [±count] distinction holds only for CENs, that have an internal verbal structure, we have sought its origin in the verbal layers of the corresponding verbs, and shown that it relies on the presence or absence of AspQP. Adopting the idea that this projection never occurs in the structure of CENs (Travis 1992; Alexiadou et al. 2010a; b; 2011; Wiltschko 2014) we have hypothesized that it is the presence or absence of ClP that assumes a similar function for this class of nominals. Thus, when AspQP merges in the structure of the base verb, ClP is present in the corresponding CEN. This, in turn, enables the presence of NumP. Conversely, if AspQP is lacking in the verb, ClP does not merge in the corresponding CEN. Since de, common to partitive articles and quantity expressions, merges in Cl, the absence of this projection accounts for the fact that [–count] CENs do not combine with partitive articles, contrary to simple [–count] nouns, or quantity expressions (QP), contrary to both [–count] nouns and [+count] CENs.

A final question that deserves to be addressed at this point is that of the potential realization of outer aspect in French CENs. It has indeed been shown by Alexiadou et al. (2010a; b), that in various languages, the lack of plurality is associated with imperfectivity, and relies on the absence of nP and/or ClP. Note first that all French CENs include nP, contrary to e.g. Romanian supine nominals. As for the absence of ClP, we have shown that it results from internal atelicity, i.e. the absence of AspQP in the verbal structure.

However, count use is only an option for potentially telic CENs. Recall indeed from examples (1a) and (10b), that pluractionnality can be conveyed by frequency adverbials, coupled with unmarked nouns. As for atelic CENs, this option is the only one possible (15), which suggests that such unmarked nominals are in fact [–count] CENs. As hypothesized in Knittel (2016a), it is precisely the use of [–count] CENs that encodes imperfectivity in French, whereas [+count] CENs are perfective. In such a view, and in line with Alexiadou et al. (2010a; b), outer aspect, that is also available for French CENs, would rely on the presence or absence of ClP, although in particular manner.

Notes

1“Simple Event Nominals” and “Complex Event Nominals” are respectively called “Conceptual Event Nominals” and “Grammatical Event Nominals” by Roy & Soare (2013), and “Result Nominals” are labelled “Referential Nominals” by Alexiadou (2001) and subsequent works. We maintain Grimshaw’s terminology here.

2Some of the properties of CENs presented in Table 1 rely on the properties of the base verbs. For example, the presence of agentive modifiers is restricted to nominalizations of verbs with agentive subjects.

3As we will see in Section 4, the restrictions on the nature of the complement, and on its presence, arise from the fact that Direct Objects merge under the event projection vP, and also play a crucial role with respect to telicity.

4Apart from cases of ellipsis, where the internal argument can be recovered from the context:

(i) J’ai réparé la voiture moi-même. La réparation par le garagiste aurait coûté trop cher.
  ‘I repaired the car myself. The repair by the mechanics would have been too expensive.’

5le voyage fréquent can be found on Google (25 results), mostly in translations from other languages into French. The very few acceptable examples are systematically generic sentences, cf.:

(i) Avec une jeune femme, le voyage fréquent serait possible, sinon facile.
  ‘With a young woman, the frequent trip would be possible, even easy’.

6As for pendant, it measures only a subpart of the event that does not include the telos. This is what we symbolize using ≠.

9Example from www.fleurustourisme.be/images/OCTFleurus/documents…/anima_huma_31_60.pdf. The replacement of the definite singular article present in the original example by indefinite articles or plusieurs does not alter the acceptablity of the sentence.

10Example from https://www.lorientlejour.com/article/syrie-voiture-piegee-a-homs-4-morts-ong.html. The original example contains the indefinite plural article, that can be replaced by un without grammaticality alteration.

13Contrary to ignorer, détenir and protéger admit locative PPs:

(i) *Les politiciens ignorent ces problèmes à l’Assemblée.  
    ‘Politiciens ignore these issues in the parliament.’ [ok if ignorer: to disregard]

(ii)   Les gardiens détiennent les clés dans un coffre.
    ‘The guards hold the keys in a safe.’

(iii)   Le mot de passe protège les documents dans l’ordinateur.
    ‘The password protects the documents in the computer.’

This shows that the distinction between D-states and K-states (Maienborn 2005; 2007) is not relevant here.

14Marín & McNally (2011), as well as Fábregas & Marín (2012) provide a variery of tests to distinguish aspectual features of verbs and nouns in Spanish. Unfortunately, these tests do not always apply to French data, or with similar results.

15The inherent plurality of applaudissements is plausibly due to its intrinsic pluractional value, since it necessarily implies several clapping events. See Knittel (2016b) for a discussion of lexical plural of deverbal nominals.

Abbreviations

DEF.ART = definite article, INDEF.PL.ART = indefinite plural article, PART.ART = partitive article, PL = plural, SG = singular, REFL = reflexive pronoun

Acknowledgements

I am grateful to all the researchers, particularly the audience of JENOM 6, and students who have discussed and commented the data and the analysis provided here, and to the three anonymous reviewers of Glossa for their detailed reviews and comments that helped me to improve the content of this article.

Competing Interests

The author has no competing interests to declare.

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