Numerals and the theory of number

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Luisa Martí


I develop an account of the semantics and nominal number marking of the numeral+noun construction in Turkish, Western Armenian and English that combines insights from Scontras’ (2014) approach to the same data with Martí’s (2017, 2020) treatment of grammatical number, based on Harbour (2014). Fundamental to my approach are two of Harbour’s number features, [±atomic] and [±minimal], their compositional semantics, and a syntax where these features take the phrase that contains the numeral, which I call NumeralP, as their sister, following Scontras. The morphological number marking we find on noun phrases with numerals across languages is thus viewed as a result of the principled interplay of the spell out of number features, their place, and that of numerals, in the syntactic structure of noun phrases, and their semantic import. Numerals are provided with a uniform semantics, no matter the language, and the semantics assumed for Turkish and Western Armenian noun phrases is empirically justified. I compare my proposal to Scontras (2014) and to Bale, Gagnon & Khanjian (2011a), highlighting in particular the empirical and theoretical shortcomings of the latter. The proposed account fully grounds the semantic notions of minimality and atomicity in the morpho-syntax, uncovers a new domain where the effects of [±minimal] may be detected (cf. Harbour 2011, 2016), and demonstrates that an inclusive-only approach to plurality is not necessary in the account of the data.

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