Home > Events > LING Colloquium: Roumyana Pancheva (USC)
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LING Colloquium: Roumyana Pancheva (USC)

Time: 
Friday, February 21, 2020 - 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM
Location: 
1310 Marie Mount Hall

 

Roumyana Pancheva (Professor of Linguistics and Slavic Languages and Literatures, USC Dornsife)

Numerals and Number Features

Nominals combining with numerals show variation in number marking, cross-linguistically and even within one and the same language. Ionin and Matushansky (2006, 2018) propose that numerals always combine with noun phrases which denote predicates of singularities; plural marking on this view is a form of (uninterpretable) agreement. Bale et al (2011), however, propose that all numeral modification is restrictive, prohibiting the combination of numerals with semantically singular noun phrases (what they call ‘the strong thesis’, a candidate for a semantic universal). They suggest that in languages where numerals appear with morphologically singular (bare) noun phrases (e.g. Western Armenian), the nouns are semantically number neutral. Yet, this analysis cannot extend to all languages with singular-marked nouns in structures with numerals (e.g., Finnish, as noted by Ionin and Matushansky 2018), leaving the debate open. In this talk I present further evidence from Bulgarian that numerals can combine with semantically singular noun phrases. The argument involves a reanalysis of one type of number inflection for masculine nouns (the ‘count’ form), which has traditionally been considered a form of agreement on otherwise semantically plural nouns. I show how the analysis extends to Russian nouns combining with paucal numerals. If my arguments are correct, the ‘strong thesis’ is not. I end with a suggestion that what underlies variation in number marking is that there are two routes to obtaining cardinality measures.