The Syntax-Semantics reading group will be meeting for the last time this semester on Thursday, April 18th at 1pm in Rm. 117 of the McGill Linguistics department, with a Zoom room open for those unable to join in person.

This week, Luis and Bernhard will be presenting a talk entitled: ‘Quantity DPs: Decoupling quantities from entities’. The abstract is below:

In DPs like the amount of nuts you ate or the number of cooks you hired, a quantity noun (amountnumber) combines with an entity noun (nutscooks). Such quantity DPs (QDPs) are surprisingly flexible: they can saturate not only quantity predicates, like be 50 grams or be three, but also predicates of ordinary entities, like eat or hire. To explain this flexibility, Scontras (2017) takes QDPs to denote not primitive quantities like 50 grams or 3, but properties of entities (e.g. nuts or cooks) that share the same measurement. Under this view, the number of cooks you hired, for instance, denotes (the nominalization of) the property that maps any world w to the set containing all sets of cooks with the same cardinality as the set of cooks that you hired in w. Treating QDPs as denoting these ‘rich amounts’ allows for an elegant and lean syntax for QDPs. We nevertheless show that the rich amount approach faces undergeneration challenges in deriving the interpretation of QDPs with no modifiers, QDPs with intensional modifiers, and a variety of QDPs in German and Spanish with two entity nouns. All these challenges can be avoided if we assume that QDPs denote primitive quantities, and so, they question the usefulness of rich amounts in semantic composition. At the same time, the assumption that QDPs denote primitive quantities requires resorting to a rich syntax that needs to be subject to further scrutiny.  


Scontras, Gregory. 2017. A new kind of degree. Linguistics and Philosophy 40. 165–205.

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