THE SEMANTIC AND MORPHOSYNTACTIC UNDERPINNINGS OF THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN COUNT AND MASS NOUNS IN POLISH
In Polish, the expression of the count/mass distinction in the nominal domain is tied mainly to number variability and the availability of the noun to occur in a counting construction directly with a (cardinal) numeral. This suggests that the linguistic category of number has an important role to play in encoding individuation in the nominal domain. In the analysis offered here, number is a morphosyntactic feature with a morphological counterpart, which generates count syntax and which has a well-defined inflectional semantics. Since the value of the number feature is determined in (overt) syntax, syntax contributes to imposing the individuating perspective on the extension of nominal predicates. The flexibility of the count/mass distinction in nouns has its source, respectively, in the possibility of valuing a basic mass noun with a specific value of the number feature and in the possibility of leaving the number feature of a basic count noun unvalued in syntax. Unlike in Cognitive Linguistics, mass nouns are not treated as singular here and the fact that non-plural count nouns and mass nouns have the same forms in Polish, the root or stem composed with an ending which is not in opposition to the ending encoding the plural value of the number feature, does not indicate that there is a conceptual affinity between singular count nouns and mass nouns. At the same time, the collective is argued not to be a distinct number value and as a result, the number system is defined over two rather than three (or more) values in Polish. Some interactions between the morphological features of number and gender, pursued in the general framework of the 'Word-and-Paradigm' model of morphosyntax, suggest that apart from grammatical gender, also (partly conventionalized) natural gender features are relevant for gender resolution and gender agreement rules in Polish.
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