Mass/count and levels of quantiﬁcation in Chintang Robert Schikowski (UZH, Department of General Linguistics) Mass vs. Count im Sprachvergleich 16 December 2013 1 Introduction • Chintang (Tibeto-Burman > Kiranti) is spoken in Eastern Nepal (Dhanakuṭā district, Chintāṅa and Āhāle VDC). • crucial syntactical phenomenon: S/A detransitivisation (Schikowski 2013). Deﬁned as alternation between ◦ transitive default construction: A-ERG O-NOM 1 V-a(A).o(O) ◦ detransitivised construction: A-NOM O-NOM V-s(A) • e transitive construction is used when the referent in O is at least spe- ciﬁc (1a). When it is non-speciﬁc (1b), the detransitivised construction is used. (1) a. Debi-ŋa Debi-ERG seu apple kond-o-ko. look.for-3[s]O-IND.NPST[.3sA] ‘Debi is looking for the/an apple.’ b. Debi Debi seu apple kon-no. look.for-IND.NPST[.3sS] ‘Debi is looking for apples.’ (elicitation PRAR 2010) • Topic for this talk: interaction of S/A detransitivisation and other phe- nomena with mass/count in Chintang 2 S/A detransitivisation and quantiﬁability • A crucial prerequisite for speciﬁcity in Chintang is quantiﬁability (Schikowski 2013) → link to mass/count questions. 1 O is a special label used here to cover all P-T-G that can have O agreement. Apart from this, the role system used in this paper is “Bickelian” in the sense of Haspelmath 2011 and is based on Dowty (1991), Primus (1999), and Bickel and Nichols (2009). • Observation with “mass nouns”: transitive construction is used with quan- tiﬁed O referents, detransitivised construction with non-quantiﬁed refer- ents: (2) a. Kok rice a-ca-no? 2[s]S-eat-IND.NPST ‘Are you having rice?’ (CLC:CLLDCh1R02S01.0292) b. Ek one mana-iʔ-ko m.-LOC-NMLZ kok rice a-c-o-kko 2[s]A-eat-3[s]O-IND.NPST mo CIT para… COND ‘Suppose you eat one mana (≈ one pound) of rice…’ (CLC:CLLDCh1R02S01.0292) (3) a. Kappe, K. ba-iʔ PROX-LOC cuwa water thu-i. drink-[SUBJ.NPST.]1p[i]S ‘Kalpana, let’s have (some) water here.’ (CLC:CLLDCh3R10S05.412) b. Cuwa water ek one gilas glass thuŋ-c-o. drink-d[iA]-[SUBJ.NPST.]3[s]O ‘Let’s have one glass of water.’ (CLC:CLLDCh1R05S01.800) • But overt quantiﬁcation is only an indicator of quantiﬁability. In (4a), S/A detransitivisation marks non-quantiﬁability in the absence of any quanti- ﬁers. In (4b), the transitive frame indicates quantiﬁability. (4) a. Abo now sa meat tac-ce. bring-[SUBJ.NPST.1]d[iS] ‘Now let’s bring (some) meat.’ b. Abo now sa meat tac-c-o. bring-d[iA]-[SUBJ.]3[s]O ‘Now let’s bring a speciﬁc amount of/the meat.’ (elicitation PRAR 2010) 3 Deﬁnitions of mass/count • Point of departure: there is no categorical lexical distinction between mass and count nouns (cf. e.g. Bunt 2006, Pelletier 2012): 1
• e transitive construction is used when the referent in O is at least spe-cific (1a). When it is non-specific (1b), the detransitivised construction isused.
(1) a. Debi-ŋaDebi-ERG
‘Debi is looking for the/an apple.’b. Debi
‘Debi is looking for apples.’ (elicitation PRAR 2010)
• Topic for this talk: interaction of S/A detransitivisation and other phe-nomena with mass/count in Chintang
2 S/A detransitivisation and quantifiability• A crucial prerequisite for specificity in Chintang is quantifiability
(Schikowski 2013) → link to mass/count questions.1O is a special label used here to cover all P-T-G that can have O agreement. Apart from this,
the role system used in this paper is “Bickelian” in the sense of Haspelmath 2011 and is based onDowty (1991), Primus (1999), and Bickel and Nichols (2009).
• Observationwith “mass nouns”: transitive construction is usedwith quan-tified O referents, detransitivised construction with non-quantified refer-ents:
(2) a. Kokrice
‘Are you having rice?’ (CLC:CLLDCh1R02S01.0292)
‘Suppose you eat one mana (≈ one pound) of rice…’(CLC:CLLDCh1R02S01.0292)
(3) a. Kappe,K.
‘Kalpana, let’s have (some) water here.’(CLC:CLLDCh3R10S05.412)
‘Let’s have one glass of water.’(CLC:CLLDCh1R05S01.800)
• But overt quantification is only an indicator of quantifiability. In (4a), S/Adetransitivisation marks non-quantifiability in the absence of any quanti-fiers. In (4b), the transitive frame indicates quantifiability.
(4) a. Abonow
‘Now let’s bring (some) meat.’b. Abo
‘Now let’s bring a specific amount of/the meat.’(elicitation PRAR 2010)
3 Definitions of mass/count• Point of departure: there is no categorical lexical distinction betweenmass
and count nouns (cf. e.g. Bunt 2006, Pelletier 2012):
◦ “count” used as “mass”: Seeing too much table is a candy buffet no-no.◦ “mass” used as “count”: He had five beers last night.
• But: nouns may be used in different ways –they may be construed andpresented as quantifiable (≈ count) or non-quantifiable (≈ mass).
• emost common definitions ofmass/countmake reference to homogene-ity, either via divisibility or cumulativity (Kria 1989). But both have in-herent weaknesses (Rothstein 2010). Important point for Chintang: wordslike seu ‘apple’ may (in object position!) refer to arbitrary amounts ofthings without a plural marker → divisibility+cumulativity can also beapplied to “count” nouns
• Alternative suggestion (similar to Rothstein 2010, but less formal andmoreflexible): nouns (i.e. nominal lexemes) may have a clear base level or not.A noun may be said to have a base level if combining it with the numeral‘one’ evokes a clear mental image 2
• is is a continuous and language-specific distinction. at is,
◦ Nouns may have a more or less clear base level. Compare cat (clear)with cheese (less clear, possibly a wedge or loa) and soil (completelyunclear).
◦ Nouns with identical translations may have different base levels indifferent languages. Compare English ginger (no clear base level)with Chintang phidaŋ (base level = one rhizome).
◦ For some languages, base levels may not be relevant at all (cf. thetypology of nominal “Seinsarten” in Rijkhoff 2002:54ff.)
• Definitions related to homogeneity presuppose the notion of base levelsbecause dividing and cumulating have to start from some level.
2Presently this is an intuitive notion. However, since it can be grounded in language use, itwould be possible to operationalise it on the base of annotated corpora. e idea is that the baselevel of a noun becomes the clearer the more oen a speaker/hearer experiences quantifiable con-struals with identical selected levels (see below).
4 Base levels in Chintang• Chintang is highly flexible with respect to base levels. ere are appar-
ently no nouns which only allow for one construal. Here are two examplesfor nouns which would normally be construed as non-quantifiable (bhuja‘fried rice’, kham ‘soil’) combined with thia ‘one’:
‘e old woman had given me one piece of soil.’(CLC:nangsuba A.120)
• Other well-known tests for the mass/count distinction (see e.g. Ghomeshiand Massam 2012) so far also have not yielded two clear-cut classes:
◦ pluralisation: all equivalents to English mass nouns can be pluralisedvia “Universal Packing” (Bunt 2006): kham-ce ‘pieces of soil’
◦ quantifiers: small and big quantities are denoted by the same quan-tifiers for all nouns: miʔmuŋ ‘lile, few’, badde ‘much, many’
◦ classifiers: Chintang has two numeral classifiers (+ vs );both co-occur with all nouns
◦ determiners: Chintang does not have articles; specificity of O can beindicated via the transitive frame for all nouns:
‘He bites off a piece of soil!’ (CLC:CLLDCh2R03S06b.0577)
• As a result, Chintang does not fall into any of the three mass/count lan-guage types proposed by Chierchia (1998, 2010):
◦ number is in most contexts obligatorily marked (differently from“classifier languages” and “number neutral languages”)
◦ there are obligatory numeral classifiers (differently from “numbermarking languages” and “number neutral languages”)
◦ classifiers regularly co-occur with the nominal number marker
• So ismass/count relevant in Chintang at all? e distinction does not seemto be grammaticalised. But:
◦ Differences of a continuous kind can be elicited –some nouns haveclear base levels, some don’t.
◦ is may serve as the base for predicting grammatical phenomena.Annotation data are available for S/A detransitivisation from thestudy in Schikowski (2013). As shown in figure 2, this phenomenoncorrelates more or less directly with the tendency of objects to beconstrued as quantifiable.
◦ Pluralisation behaves quite differently from this, as shown in figure1. is is expected, though, since having a clear base level is not asufficient criterion for frequent pluralisation.
◦ Base levels are also necessary to interpret the semantics of the non-singular marker -ce: if there is a base level, -ce operates on that level.If there is no base level, a referent first needs to be “packed” beforethe corresponding noun can be used with-ce.
5 Selected levels in Chintang• Apart from the base level, many more levels are possible.
• Such levels can be flexibly selected by a speaker in a concrete NP and serveas the base for numerals such as thia as well as for the non-singular -ce.
• Selection may take place ad hoc (e.g. more or less water) or may be guidedby natural distinctions. For instance, makkai ‘maize’ may refer to
◦ a single grain of maize (8a),◦ a specific amount of maize grains (8b),◦ a maize cob (8c) (= base level), or◦ a maize plant (8d).
(8) a. Uncu-makai-ce=ta2dPOR-maize-ns=FOC
‘ey bring out their maize (grains).’(CLLDCh3R01S01a.682)
‘It’s only one handful of maize that I have ground.’(CLDLCh3R03S02.1226)
‘Have you finished degraining the maize cobs?’(CLLDCh2R05S01.080)
‘Two maize plants have grown.’ (CLLDCh4R05S05.1192)
• Selected levels are relevant for S/A detransitivisation because there areoen quantifiability mismates between levels:
◦ one level quantifiable, subordinate level not.◦ one level quantifiable, superordinate level not
• Non-quantifiable subamount: onewhole tangerine vs a part without clearborders that has been eaten by a mouse
‘A mouse has eaten from this (tangerine).’ (field notes 2011)
• Non-quantifiable superamount: one jug of water vs virtually infinitesource from which it is taken
‘Now I take out some water.’ (CLLDCh3R07S03.602)
• antifiability mismatches can lead to structural mismatches across lan-guages. For instance, normally the O referent in the Chintang transitiveconstruction will have an article in the English translation, whereas the Oreferent of the detransitivised construction will have no article. But…
◦ Chintang conventionally selects the level of a complex referent thatis actually affected by an action
◦ English sometimes seems to prefer to select any quantifiable level(conditions not clear)
◦ In (11), Chintang selects the affected level (non-quantifiable sub-amount→S/A detransitivisation), whereas English selects the quan-tifiable superamount (→ definite article):
‘while he was still taking (the medicine)’(CLC:appa katha talk.021)
• In general, English seems to be more flexible than Chintang with respectto level selection. For instance, (9) could also be translated as
◦ A mouse has eaten the tangerine. (select superamount even thoughnot fully affected)
◦ A mouse has eaten from the tangerine. (select superamount and in-dicate partial affection by preposition)
◦ A mouse has nibbled at the tangerine. (select superamount and indi-cate partial affection by preposition and verb)
◦ A mouse has eaten a piece of the tangerine. (select subamount)◦ But interestingly ⁇A mouse has eaten some of the tangerine. (select
• Selected levels can also account for apparent number/construction mis-matches within Chintang. Normally, O NPs in the S/A detransitivised donot carry number markers and the number marker is only used with def-inite quantities. However, examples such as (12) are possible: