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Title: The Semantics of Number in the Arabic Noun Phrase
Authors: Zabbal, Youri
Keywords: Afro-Asiatic Languages
Semitic Languages
Arabic Language
Noun Phrase
Issue Date: 2002
Publisher: University of Calgary
Abstract: This thesis presents a compositional analysis of number in Arabic for simple noun phrases in the framework of formal semantics. A semantics for the dual and sound plural is given in which the number morpheme, located in the functional head Num, maps a set of atoms onto a set of sums. It is argued that the broken plural can denote either a set of sums or a set of groups, accounting for its distributive and collective readings, reflected in the agreement on the verb. I consider the class of collective nouns in Arabic, which are non-singular but have a marked singular form, called the singulative. I argue that the collective is underlyingly non-generic, with the same semantics as nouns like furniture in English, denoting a semilattice, which contains atoms as well as sums. The singulative is analysed as a classifier which maps the semilattice onto a set of atoms.
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