(A)telicity and the mass-count distinction

Abstract : Many linguists have pointed out a correspondence between the mass-count distinction in the nominal domain and the aspectual classification in the verbal domain. An analogy is made between atelic verbal predicates and mass nouns on the one hand, and telic verbal predicates and count nouns on the other hand, based upon the form of quantification and the (un)boundedness of the denotation (cf. Jackendoff 1991). To draw such a parallel between the verbal and nominal domains, verbal predications are related to their nominalizations, assuming that there is a direct semantic correspondence between them (cf. Mourelatos 1978). In this study, I further investigate the issue of aspectual inheritance in nominalizations, and the correlation between the mass-count nominal feature and (a)telicity. I focus on French nouns derived from activity verbs (ANs), as they seem to be a case of non-systematic preservation of aspect. It is argued that (i) some French ANs are count nouns, while others are mass nouns; (ii) all French ANs inherit the aspectual properties of their base verbs; (iii) the mass-count distinction does not correlate with (a)telicity, but rather with the description of occurrences, i.e. of dynamic particulars. So nominal boundedness does not parallel verbal boundedness, and nominal and verbal Aktionsarten are not isomorphous: different sets of aspectual features apply to each category. The grammatical specificities of the V and N categories determine the aspectual features that are relevant for each category.
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Richard Huyghe. (A)telicity and the mass-count distinction. Recherches linguistiques de Vincennes, Presses Universitaires de Vincennes, 2011, pp.101-126. ⟨hal-00975578⟩

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