On the existential force of bare plurals across languages

Veneeta Dayal

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

13 Scopus citations


Bare plurals across languages can be associated with existential quantificational force. In the neo-Carlsonian account of Chierchia (1998), there are two distinct sources for this. One is the low ranked ∃-type shift of Partee (1986), which comes into play when the higher ranked nom and iota are unavailable. The other is the basic kind-level meaning for bare plurals, where ∃ force comes into existence as a result of sort-adjustment by the rule of Derived Kind Predication (DKP), in the spirit of Carlson (1977). Noun phrases shifted by ∃ are marked by the ability to take scope over other operators. Noun phrases that tap into DKP are characterized by obligatory narrow scope with respect to other operators. This chapter re-examines both sources of existential force and presents a new perspective on them. Canonically, bare plurals allow reference to kinds but there are some that do not. ∃-type shift is posited by Chierchia for bare plurals that are not kind denoting. In this chapter, a hitherto overlooked distinction among such bare purals is noted. It is shown that while one set indeed shows scopal flexibility, as expected under Chierchia’s analysis, the other set does not. It is argued that allowing ∃-type shift for even the first set is not viable when a larger set of facts is taken into account. Alternative ways of achieving the same effects are proposed, to compensate for eliminating ∃-type shift from the set of covert options available to bare plurals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationFrom Grammar to Meaning
Subtitle of host publicationThe Spontaneous Logicality of Language
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages32
ISBN (Electronic)9781139519328
ISBN (Print)9781107033108
StatePublished - Jan 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Social Sciences


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