Navigation – Plan du site

Résumés

Cet article a un double but. Il présente d’une part une analyse générale des définis faibles et d’autre part une analyse de la flexion en sémitique et de son rôle dans la détermination de la définitude faible ou forte. Nous introduisons un nouveau type de définis faibles que nous appelons les définis de quantité (‘amount definites’). En nous appuyant sur une caractérisation de la définitude et de l’indéfinitude en termes de fonction de choix, nous analysons les définis faibles comme résultant de l’application d’un déterminant défini monté en type à un nom relationnel. Cette application fait suite à la réinterprétation du nom relationnel en nom fonctionnel. Quand cette fonction s’applique à un possesseur, la définitude du résultat est fonction de la définitude du possesseur. En hébreu, les définis faibles prennent souvent la forme de syntagmes nominaux avec pour tête un nom à l’état construit ; l’article discute l’interprétation de tous les noms à l’état construit comme des noms relationnels. En hébreu parlé, le défini monté en type utilisé dans la formation des définis faibles peut prendre la forme d’un numéral (ou d’un autre nom de quantité) marqué par une flexion à l’état emphatique. Nous appelons définis de quantité (‘amount definites’) les définis faibles dont la tête est un nom de quantité marqué par une flexion à l’état emphatique et nous comparons les propriétés des définis de quantité aux propriétés des syntagmes nominaux dont la tête est un nom de quantité à l’état construit, ces derniers étant des définis forts.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

We are grateful to the audiences and organizers of the following events where the paper was presented: the Conference on (In)Definites and Weak Referentiality at the Federal University of Santa Catarina, Florianópolis (20 – 21 August 2012), the Colloquium of the Linguistics Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (December 27, 2012), and the the Workshop on Aspect at Bar Ilan University (March 20, 2013). We are indebted to Claire Beyssade, Luka Crnič, Anita Mittwoch, and two anonymous reviewers, for their input. This work was supported by ISF grant 1157/10 to Edit Doron and Nora Boneh.

1. Introduction

1The paper introduces a novel type of weak definites, which we call amount definites. The aim of the paper is to reformulate Poesio's original analysis of weak definites in terms of the choice-function analysis of (in)definiteness, and to explore its consequences by explaining the properties of amount definites.

2Weak definites are noun phrases which are definite in form, yet do not presuppose a unique referent, unlike regular definites. Following Poesio (1994) and Barker (2005), we view weak definite noun phrases as crucially involving relational nouns, and we extend this approach to the non-possessive weak definites discussed by Carlson and Sussman (2005). We draw attention to particular weak definites not yet found in the literature which are headed by amount nouns, including numerals and other measure nouns. Weak definites constructed from amount nouns will be called amount definites.

3The following are (attested) examples of amount definites in colloquial Modern Hebrew. In each case, the bolded noun phrase is interpreted like an indefinite, though it is definite in form and may be interpreted as definite in other environments: the three children, the five (or the hundred) Shekels, the glass of wine:

(1)

ha-mišpaxot

im

ha-šloša

yeladim

the-families

with

the-three

children

'the families with three children

'

(2)

ha-alut le-mišpaxa

lo

overet

et

ha-xamiša šqalim

the-cost per-family

neg

exceed

acc

the-five Shekels

'The cost per family does not exceed five Shekels.' (Shekel is a currency unit)

(3)

crixat ha-alkohol šelo hi bisvivot ha-kos yayin be-yom

consumption the-alcohol his is about the-glass wine in-day

'His alcohol intake is about a glass of wine a day.'

(4)

ha-be'ayot še nitqalim bahem

the-problems that one faces them

kše- xosxim et ha-me'a šqalim al ixsun

when one saves acc the-hundred Shekels on storage

'the problems one faces when one saves one hundred Shekels for storage.'

4Amount definites are related to amount relatives (Carlson 1977), illustrated in (5) below. In (5), one finds definiteness of the amount coupled with the indefiniteness of the substance, which characterizes (1) – (4).

(5)

It will take us the rest of our lives to drink the champagne that they spilled that evening. (Heim 1987: 40)

5The structure of the paper is as follows. We introduce weak definites in section 2 together with our analysis. It is crucial to our account that weak definites are headed by relational nouns. In Hebrew, relational nouns are idiomatically expressed in an inflectional form called the construct state. Section 3 introduces state inflection in general. Section 4 explores the connection of the construct state to relational nouns, and section 5 – its connection to the expression of definiteness and weak definiteness in Hebrew. In section 6 we turn to amount definites in colloquial Hebrew. We compare their properties to those of definite noun phrases where the amount noun is in the construct state form. We end with a semantic analysis of amount definites as weak definites.

2. Weak definites

6Weak definites are noun phrases (NPs) which are definite in form yet do not presuppose unique reference, unlike regular (strong) definites. Two subclasses of weak definites have been brought up so far in the literature. One involves possessive constructions, analysed by Poesio (1994) and Barker (2005). The other subclass is non-possessive, and was analysed by Carlson and Sussman (2005).

7The term weak definites and the original examples are due to Poesio (1994), who discussed a construction of possessive NPs with an indefinite possessor and a definite head (where the definiteness of the head is expressed either by the determiner the or by the Saxon genitive). Some examples are shown below:

(6)

a.

John got these data from the student of a famous linguist.

b.

My aunt got attacked by the parent of a student whom she had failed

c.

A bomb exploded outside the office of an American corporation.

d.

Bill found the wedding photo of a same-sex couple.

e.

He showed me the picture of a veiled woman holding a wounded relative in her arms.

(7)

a.

John got these data from a famous linguist's student.

b.

My aunt got attacked by a student's parent.

c.

A bomb exploded outside an American corporation's office.

d.

Bill found a same-sex couple's wedding photo.

e.

He showed me a veiled woman's picture.

  • 1 We leave aside the strong reading, which these examples also have, where the definite NP presuppose (...)

8Poesio shows that despite the definite form of the possessive constructions in such examples, they do not presuppose uniqueness.1 It is not presupposed that the linguist in (6a) has a unique student or that the student in (6b) has a unique parent, etc. Indeed, these constructions appear in environments typical of indefinite NPs. Like indefinites, such as in (8), and unlike strong definites in (9), which are not felicitous discourse-initially, weak definites can introduce new participants into the discourse, as in (10):

(8)

a.

I met a student yesterday.

b.

Mary bought an office.

(9)

a.

#I met the student yesterday

b.

#Mary bought the office.

(10)

a.

I met the student of a famous linguist yesterday.

b.

Mary bought the office of an American corporation.

Like other weak NPs, they appear in the existential construction:

(11)

a.

There is a famous linguist's student waiting for you in the hall.

b.

There was a student's parent in the classroom.

c.

There is an American corporation's office just around the corner.

d.

There was the wedding photo of a same-sex couple on his desk.

e.

In today's paper there was the picture of a veiled woman holding a wounded relative in her arms.

9We may ask whether weak definites have any characteristics of definite NPs. (12a) below shows that, like definites, they allow the partitive construction, which is not the case for indefinites, cf. (12b). But notice that the examples in (12) are plural, and accordingly the definite in (12a) might actually be a strong definite:

(12)

a.

Yesterday I spoke to two of the students of a famous linguist.

b.

*Yesterday I spoke to two of several students of a famous linguist.

10Poesio (1994), and later also Barker (2005), note that there are also examples of weak definites with a definite possessor. There is no uniqueness presupposition in these examples either; it is not presupposed that the road has a single side or the kitchen a single corner etc:

(13)

It is safer to mount and dismount towards the side of the road, rather than in the middle of traffic.

(14)

It took him several minutes to reach the refrigerator nestled in the corner of the kitchen.

(15)

The baby’s fully-developed hand wrapped itself around the finger of the surgeon/ the surgeon's finger.

(16)

A secondary school student or the parent of the student may request that the student's name, address and telephone listing not be released.

(17)

Tell the employee of the store what you are looking for and she will provide you with options.

11A different class of weak definites, with no possessors whatsoever, was brought up by Carlson and Sussman (2005):

(18)

Mary went to the store.

(19)

I’ll read the newspaper when I get home.

(20)

Open the window, will you please?

(21)

Fred listened to the Red Sox on the radio.

(22)

Let's take the elevator.

12Carlson and Sussman demonstrate that these definites differ from strong definites. For example, whereas strong definites have reference that carries over in VP-ellipsis, i.e. strict identity, in the case of weak definites there is no requirement of referential identity in VP-ellipsis, and sloppy identity is possible. For instance, in (23), both people need to have heard about the same riot, but not on the same radio:

(23)

Mary heard about the riot on the radio, and Bob did, too.

(Carlson et al. 2006: 17)

13Sloppy identity in VP-ellipsis characterizes indefinites in general, and also the possessive weak definites discussed by Poesio and by Barker, such as those in (6-7) and (13-17) above.

14Possessive examples with indefinite possessors, like the ones in (6-7), are closest to indefinite NPs in interpretation. They appear in existential constructions, as was shown in (11) above, whereas the other examples do not:

(24)

a.

#There is the surgeon's finger in the picture.

b.

#There is the elevator.

  • 2 Note that there are conditions on the particular objects denoted by the nouns, and thus it may not (...)

15The examples in (24) are infelicitous with an existential reading, and can only be given a "list" interpretation (Milsark 1977). On the other hand, the examples with indefinite possessors did give rise to an existential interpretation in (11). This is due to the lack of existential presuppositions of the possessors in (6-7), which contrasts with the existential presupposition of the definite possessors in (13-17) and the implicit context to which the weak indefinites are related in (18-22).2 This difference in existential presuppositions is at the basis of the difference in the felicity of the existential construction (de Jong 1987).

16Despite the difference in existential presuppositions of the possessors in the different types of examples, there is no difference in the existential presuppositions of the possessees. All these possessees equally presuppose existence. The existence presupposition is satisfied for each context of (13-22) on the basis of general knowledge of the lexicon and the world; e.g. it is normally presupposed that roads have sides, kitchens have corners, surgeons have fingers and that radios, newspapers, stores, windows etc are found within any discourse situation. As for (6-7), existence is easily accommodated (globally, in the terminology of Heim 1983).

17The puzzle of weak definites is that despite the existence presuppositions, there is no uniqueness presupposition. If there is no uniqueness in a weak definite, it is unclear how it can be expressed as a definite.

18We follow Poesio in analysing the head NP in weak definites such as (6-7) as a relation, whose denotation yields a set of values for each possessor. In (6a), for example, student is interpreted as a relation, which, when applied to some value of an indefinite linguist, returns a value which is also variable, and moreover varies with the value of the linguist. Hence, the reference of the possessee is not unique. But, according to Poesio, definiteness is satisfied by the dependence (anchoring) of the value of a relational noun on that of its possessor.

19We adopt the use of choice functions to determine the denotations both of indefinite and definite noun phrases, as proposed by von Heusinger (2004) and Schlenker (2004). Each indefinite noun phrase in the discourse is interpreted by a new choice function Fi, which accounts for the fact that each occurrence of a student in the discourse denotes a different individual. Definite noun phrases on the other hand are interpreted by a single choice function FC per context, which accounts for the fixed denotation of the student in a given discourse. The uniqueness in the latter case follows from the fact that FC always selects the most salient individual with the relevant property:

(25)

a.

a ~>

λP. Fi [λy. P (y)]]

i is a new index

b.

the ~>

λP. FC [λy. P (y)]]

FC selects the most salient P- individual in C

c.

theR ~>

λR. [λx. FC, x [λy. R (y, x)]]

FC, x selects a P-individual in C depending on x

20In the case of weak definites, we propose that the ordinary interpretation of the from (25b) is type-shifted so that it applies to relations rather than to properties. Thus theR in (25c) turns each relational noun into a functional noun, an idea already found in Dobrovie-Sorin (2001). Moreover, salience in C is replaced by dependence (anchoring) to the possessor x in C

21For example, the phrase the student of a famous linguist of (6a) is interpreted by combining the relation student with the functor theR whose role it is to shift relational interpretations to functional interpretations in the following manner:

(26)

a.

student ~> λx. [λy. student (y, x)]

theR ~> λR. [λx. FC, x [λy. R (y, x)]]

b.

theR-student ~> λx. FC, x [λy. student (y, x)]

22Student is a relation and it yields several individuals per possessor x. theR applies to this relation in (26b) and transforms it into a function. The function theR-student then applies to an individual x which is a famous linguist and yields the student of this individual which is selected by the contextual function FC, x.

  • 3 Notice that body parts have to be visible and distinguishable in order to be included in the domain (...)

23The same account can be extended to examples with definite possessives such as examples (13-17). The only difference is that in these examples, the possessor is unique. Here too there are relational nouns such as side, corner, and body parts such as finger, leg, arm etc, where the object standing in the relation to the possessor is not unique. The use of the definite article is again justified by the contextual function FC, x which selects one of the various referents relative to the possessor x.3

24The same account can also be extended to non-possessive examples such as those in (18-22). The nouns here are relational nouns such as store, newspaper, radio, hospital, train etc, describing objects which have a particular conventional use per location x. These nouns are indeed interpreted as weak definites only in sentences involving this characteristic use (Carlson and Sussman 2005). The object fulfilling this characteristic use in a given context is not unique in a given location x, but a unique object is selected relative to x by FC, x. Therefore the use of a definite expression is justified here as well.

25Our account distinguishes between relational/functional nouns, where the anchoring to a possessor/user licenses a definite form, and nouns modified by adjuncts. Unlike the examples in (6-7) and (13-22) above, the bolded NPs in the examples (27-30) can only be interpreted as strongly definite, i.e. presupposed to be unique:

(27)

Call their attention to the book on the table.

(28)

I remember the walk with her on a clear day.

(29)

The truck was involved in the accident near a local intersection.

(30)

What is the small green leaf below a flower's petal?

26A relational denotation is required for a noun to be in the domain of the operator theR. We return to the characterization of relational nouns in section 4 below, but for now we illustrate the extensional nature of theR. Consider the contrast in example (31) below. This example involves the noun picture which can be interpreted either as an extensional or an intensional relation:

(31)

a.

He showed me the picture of a veiled woman holding a wounded relative in her arms.

b.

He showed me a picture of a veiled woman holding a wounded relative in her arms.

27In (31a), leaving aside the strong definite reading and concentrating on the weak reading, the noun picture is only interpreted as an extensional relation, i.e. as relating a particular individual to her picture. We claim that this is so since theR, which yields a weak definite, is only defined for extensional relations.

28On the other hand, in (31b), the noun picture is not necessarily extensional, i.e. it does not necessarily relate an actual woman to her picture. Instead it may be interpreted as intensional, with the noun phrase a veiled woman interpreted de-dicto relative to it. Under this reading, the picture depicts an imaginary woman-concept represented by the artist. Such an interpretation of a veiled woman in (31a) is not possible under the weak definite reading, and is only possible under the strong definite reading.

29Our analysis of weak definites relies on the determiner theR, realized in English as the or as 's, which turns a relational noun into a function. We now turn to the expression of relational nouns in Hebrew, where they typically appear in a particular morphological form, the construct state, a form which has special properties with respect to definiteness interpretation. In the next session, we describe the expression of definiteness in Hebrew and its relationship to the morphological inflectional category of state.

3. State inflection and definiteness in Modern Hebrew

  • 4 The morphological term emphatic is a Semiticists' term marking a particular value of the inflecti (...)

30The definite article ha- of Modern Hebrew (MH) historically originates as an inflectional prefix marking the emphatic state of the noun (es), in contrast to the absolute state, which lacks this prefix. Both differ from a third form of the noun, the indeterminate construct state (cs) which does not overtly mark the contrast between emphatic and absolute. These forms are part of the Central Semitic nominal inflection system described by traditional Hebraists as early as the Renaissance, e.g. Reuchlin (1506), Buxtorf (1651) and others, whereby all nouns are inflected for the category of state (in addition to familiar nominal categories such as gender and number).4

(32)

a.

absolute state

e.g. simla

'gown'

b.

emphatic state (es)

e.g. ha-simla

' es-gown'

c.

construct state (cs)

e.g. simla-t

'gown-cs'

  • 5 We assume names and pronouns are inherently emphatic. Note also that the default form of the noun i (...)

31Both absolute state and es nouns have an inherent emphaticity value: [–emph] for the absolute state, and [+emph] for the es. cs is the form of the noun which is undetermined for emphaticity, and is marked neither as [+emph] nor as [–emph]. Thus, semantically speaking, the cs is unmarked:5

(33)

a.

absolute state

[–emph]

b.

emphatic state (es)

[+emph]

c.

construct state (cs)

32The cs noun is assigned an emphaticity value within the syntactic derivation through attachment to its annex (typically a possessor) in a construction called construct. The feature [±emph] of the annex serves to provide an emphaticity value to the construct head as well, i.e. to the cs noun.

  • 6 We predict that adjacency plays a central role in the transmission of emphaticity to the cs-head. (...)

33The [+emph] feature of the es noun is typically interpreted as definite, as in (34a), and the [–emph] feature of the absolute noun as indefinite, as in (35a). In the construct, the same feature is shared by the cs-head noun as well. This results in a [+emph] interpretation of the cs-head in (34b), and a [–emph] interpretation in (35b):6

(34)

a.

ha-yalda

es-girl

[+emph]ha-yalda

'the girl'

b.

Simlat ha-yalda

gown-cs es-girl

simlat [+emph]ha-yalda

'the gown of the girl'

(35)

a.

yalda

girl

[–emph]yalda

'a girl'

b.

Simlat yalda

gown-cs girl

simlat [–emph]yalda

'a gown of a girl'

34Nouns in the absolute or emphatic state must lack an annex, as they do in (36a-b), assuming emphaticity can only be determined once. In contrast, nouns in the construct state must have an annex (usually a possessor), as shown by the contrast in grammaticality between (36c) which lacks an annex and (36d):

(36)

a.

soxaxnu

al

simla

we-spoke

of

gown

'We spoke of a gown.'

b.

soxaxnu

al

ha-simla

we-spoke

of

es-gown

'We spoke of the gown.'

c.

*soxaxnu

al

simlat

we-spoke

of

gown-cs

d.

soxaxnu

al simlat

ha-yalda

we-spoke

of

gown-cs

es-girl

'We spoke of the girl's gown'

  • 7 We thus derive the well-known restriction that ha- is never prefixed to a cs noun.

Moreover, nouns in the construct state cannot be marked as emphatic, since this would yield double emphaticity marking:7

(37)

soxaxnu al (*ha-)simlat ha-yalda

we-spoke of (*es-)gown-cs es-girl

'We spoke of the girl's gown.'

35The correlation between the es form and definiteness is not a complete overlap, a problem which has generated a vast literature on the construct state aimed at theoretical accounts of the discrepancies between emphaticity (i.e. ha- inflection) and definiteness: Borer (1984, 1996, 1999), Ritter (1988), Englehardt (1998, 2000), Dobrovie-Sorin (2000, 2003), Danon (2001, 2008a, 2010), Heller (2002), Siloni (2003), Shlonsky (2004), and others.

(38)

ha-yalda

ha-gvoha

es-girl

es-tall

'the tall girl'

36A second illustration for the different domains of emphaticity and definiteness is illustrated by the es-noun in the following example, i.e. es-bride, which, though emphatic, is only definite in reading (a), but not in reading (b):

(39)

simlat

ha-kala

gown-cs

es-bride

a. 'the bride's gown'

es-bride is definite

b. 'the bridal gown'

es-bride is not definite

  • 8 As shown in examples (34)-(35) above, a cs head shares the Emph feature of its annex. A NP with an (...)

37In (39), the difference in the definiteness of es-bride in (39a) vs (39b) stems from the fact that es-bride heads an NP in (39a) but does not head any NP in (39b). The structures are as follows:8

38In (40a), es-bride constitutes an NP which is the definite possessor. Accordingly, (40a) presupposes the existence and uniqueness of a bride in the context. But in (40b), es-bride is a noun modifier of the compound's head. It is not a NP, and thus, in (40b), the bride is not unique nor even presupposed to exist in the context.

39The example we now turn to has been given as an example of the seemingly indirect relation between emphaticity and definiteness (Borer 1988, Dobrovie-Sorin 2000). Yet it can be shown that this type of example does not differ from the previous example in (39). We call such examples in their (a) interpretation amount constructs.

(41)

kos

ha-yayin

glass-cs

es-wine

ambg: (Rosén 1957, Rothstein 2009)

a. 'the glass of wine'

b. 'the wine glass'

40Here it seems that in both readings, not just in the compound reading, the emphatic state noun es-wine might not be a definite NP. In reading (a), the measured noun es-wine is translated to English as the bare noun wine which is not a definite argument.

But in our view the structures for (41) exactly parallel the structures in (40) above:

41Here too, we claim, the simple relation between emphaticity and definiteness can be maintained. (42b), like (40b), consists of a compound, and it denotes a glass of a particular kind, a wine-glass. As in (40b), the emphaticity of es-wine serves to determine the emphaticity of the cs-head, which in turn determines the definiteness of the noun phrase headed by the compound.

42The interesting reading in this case is the one in (42a). Unlike the English translation in (41a), in Hebrew wine is a definite NP, headed by the emphatic-state measured noun es-wine. This definite NP denotes the maximal quantity of wine in the context (in accordance with e.g. Sharvy's 1980, Link's 1983 view of mass-term definiteness). As will be elaborated below, a cs noun combining with a definite argument NP is interpreted as a function, in this particular case a measure function restricting the amount (a glass) of the wine. The literal translation of (42a), though less idiomatic in English, would therefore be: the wine, of which the amount is a glass.

An additional example of an amount construct is given below, with a numeral head:

(43)

šlošet

ha-yeladim

three-cs

es-children

'the three children'

43Unlike the English translation in (43), in Hebrew children is a definite NP headed by the emphatic-state counted noun es-children. This definite NP denotes the maximal plurality of children in the context. The cs noun denotes the amount function which contributes a presupposition regarding the number of the children (we return to this below in section 6). The literal translation of (44) would therefore be: the children, of which the number is three.

  • 9 Rather, it is the partitive interpretation of (45) which is special..

44Note that there is no way to block the definite reading of es-children in (44); it manifests itself clearly in an example such as (45) below. If we tried to generate an English-style analysis of (43), we would have to derive a partitive reading for (44) where it means three of the children, in parallel to the partitive (45). But (44) does not have a partitive reading.9

(45)

axad

ha-yeladim

one-cs

es-children

'one of the children'

  • 10 Danon (2001, 2008a, 2010) maintains that annex es-nouns which are not definite are also found in co (...)

45We conclude that emphaticity corresponds to definiteness for argument/ predicate NP, but not for N which is the modifiee in an attributive relation such as adjectival modification or compound modification.10

4. Relational nouns

46CS nouns in Hebrew are interpreted as relational nouns.

Cross linguistically, the most common relational (non-derived) nouns denote

  • inter-individual relations:

    • kinship (mother, uncle, cousin, grandfather, spouse)

    • socially defined (teacher, student, friend, lover, neighbour, stranger, expert, owner, colleague)

    • institutionally defined roles (captain (of a ship), capital (of a country), mayor (of a city), governor (of a province))

    • telic qualia (purpose and function)

      • use and control by owner (car, gown, pet...)

      • social institutions fulfilling particular use and purpose in given locations (hospital, school, newspaper, supermarket, public transportation)

      • abstract (behalf, sake)

    • agentive qualia

      • author, creator (picture, story)

  • individual-internal qualia relations:

    • part-whole relations:

      • body parts (hand, head, finger),

      • spatial parts (corner, side, coastline, periphery, vicinity, north, top, front, left)

      • temporal parts (beginning, end, middle)

      • membership (member, associate, inhabitant, citizen, employee)

    • intrinsic aspects of entities:

      • color, speed, weight, shape, temperature, price, size, amount...

  • 11 In the periphrastic construction, both nouns appear in the absolute state or the es, and are theref (...)

47There is a cross linguistic tendency for more structural "cohesion" in relational constructions than in possessive constructions. In Hebrew, the construct state (cs) is the idiomatic form of relational nouns which allows them to appear in close association with their argument. The periphrastic construction, where the possessor is not an argument (Partee and Borschev 2001), does not seem suitable to express such relations:11

(46)

drom

ha-arec

? ha-darom

šel

ha-arec

south-cs

es-country

es-south

of

es-country

'the south of the country'

(47)

roš

ha-migdal

? ha-roš

šel

ha-migdal

head-cs

es-tower

es-head

of

es-tower

'the top of the tower'

(48)

txilat

ha-ši'ur

* ha-txila

šel

ha-ši'ur

start-cs

es-class

es-start

of

es-class

'the beginning of the class'

(49)

tovat

ha-mada'

* ha-tova

šel

ha-mada'

sake-cs

es-science

es-sake

of

es-science

'the sake of science'

  • 12 There is an additional version of the construct which includes clitic doubling (Borer 1984); this v (...)

48The construct is only interpreted as relational, whereas the periphrastic possessive construction allows for contextual association between the possessor and the possessee (Rosén 1957, Doron & Meir, to appear):12

(50)

bnot ha-mora ha-banot

šel ha-mora

girls-cs es-teacher es-girls

of es-teacher

'the daughters of the teacher'

'the teacher's girls'

(not necessarily her daughters,

maybe her students, or girls

associated in any contextually

salient way)

(51)

ešet ha-cayar

ha-iša šel ha-cayar

woman-cs es-artist

es-woman of es-artist

'the wife of the artist'

'the artist's woman'

(not necessarily his wife, could be the woman he painted)

(52)

ceva ha-stav

ha-ceva šel ha-stav

colour-cs es-autumn

es-colour of es-autumn

'the colour of autumn'

'autumn's colour'

(the prevalent colour of nature

(the colour associated with autumn,

in that time of year)

e.g. the one in vogue in autumn fashion this year)

49The relation denoted by the cs noun can be constructed from a sortal noun by specifying a qualia relation. This type of relational interpretation was suggested by Heller (2002) following Vikner and Jansen (2002), as a means of coercing sortal nouns to a relational interpretation:

(53)

mexonit ha-šaxen

ha-mexonit šel ha-šaxen

car-cs es-neighbour.m

es-car ofes-neighbour.m

'the neighbour's car'

'the neighbour's car'

(the car he uses)

(could be the car he bet on)

(54)

glimat ha-melex

ha-glima šel ha-melex

gown-cs es-king

es-gown of es-king.

'the king's gown'

'the king's gown'

(he wears it)

(he may have ordered it for his wife)

50The relational association within the construct is true for derived nouns as well. In the case of event-nominalization, the construct most often takes its annex as internal rather than external argument (Rosén 1957):

(55)

giluy ha-meragel

ha-giluy šel ha-meragel

discovery-cs es-spy

es-discovery of es-spy

'the discovery of the spy'

'the spy's discovery'

(spy is internal arg only)

(spy may be external arg)

In the case of agentive-nominalization, the construct takes its annex only as internal argument:

(56)

roceax roš ha-memšala

murderer-cs head-cs es-government

'the murderer of the prime-minister' (prime-minister internal arg only)

ha-roceax šel roš ha-memšala

es-murderer of head-cs es-government

'the prime-minister's murderer' (could be a murderer hired by the PM)

5. The interpretation of CS in Modern Hebrew

51For the purposes of this article, we only discuss the interpretation of cs nouns where they head a noun phrase rather than a compound:

(57)

[NP NCS NP]

52Dobrovie-Sorin (2000) and Heller (2002) have suggested an interpretation of NCS as a function of type <e,e>. cs is viewed as an operation which shifts the denotation P of the noun N to the denotation PCS of NCS in the following way:

(58)

a.

PCS ~> λx. ιy P(y, x)

P is a relational

b.

PCS ~> λx. ιy [P(y) & RP (y, x)]

P is sortal

53RP is a context-independent relation determined by P which is a restricted possessive relation (unlike the contextual non-restricted possessive relation found in periphrastic possessives) which is the coerced qualia relation suggested by Heller (2002) following Vikner and Jensen (2002).

  • 13 The amount constructs in (42a) and (44) above are additional examples of constructs with functional (...)

This approach is appropriate where P (or RP)is not just relational but functional, as in:13

(59)

a.

avi

ha-kala

father-cs

es-bride

'the father of the bride'

b.

beyt

avixay

house-cs

Avihai

'the home of Avihai'

54It relies on the additional presupposition that for each individual x in the domain, there is a unique y related to it by P (or RP). Yet there are cases where this presupposition fails, i.e. cases when P (or RP) is not functional but relational. These are the cases where we get weak rather than strong definiteness, as was observed by Danon (2001) (though Danon himself treats these examples as indefinites):

(60)

a.

regel

ha-šulxan

leg-cs

es-table

'the leg of the table'

b.

xalon

ha-mexonit

window-cs

es-car

'the window of the car'

c.

dod

ha-kala

window-cs

es-car

'the window of the car

d.

ovedet

ha-šagrirut

uncle-cs

es-bride

'the uncle of the bride'

e.

tošav

ha-ezor

inhabitant-cs

es-area

'the inhabitant of the area'

f.

talmid

ha-xug

student-cs

es-department

'the student of the department'

The following is an attested example:

(61)

ha-pinuy le-xadarmiyunye'asebe-livuy

es-evacuationto-room-cs emergencywill-be-donein-company-cs

mevugar –horeha-talmidoxaverha-cevetha-xinuxi

adult –parent-cses-studentormember-cses-teames-educational

'Evacuation to the emergency-room will be done in the company of an adult

- the parent of the student or the member of the educational team.' (internet)

55The cs-nouns in (60), like leg or window etc, are not semantically unique, and we attribute the definiteness of these examples to the contextual function FC,x discussed in section 2 above. For this type of relational nouns, we define cs as a relation which relates the interpretation P of NP to a property:

(62)

a.

PCS ~> λx λy P(y, x)

P is a relational

b.

PCS ~> λx λy[P(y) & RP (y, x)]

P is sortal

The weak definite reading is a shift of the interpretations in (62) to the one in (63):

(63)

PCSλx. FC, x [λy. PCS (y, x)]

  • 14 The bolded NP in (64) is indeed a weak definite, as it does not presuppose uniqueness of a dress pe (...)

56In the examples in (60) above, this shift is triggered by the presence of the feature [+emph] which originates in the annex and is interpreted as definiteness. But as in Poesio's examples, the shift in (63), yielding the weak definite reading, is also found where the possessor is indefinite. In such case, the shift is triggered by the definiteness of the clitic (-a '3fs' in (64)), which doubles the indefinite possessor and formally serves as the [+emph] annex:14

(64)

b-a-mexira ha-pumbit nimkera simlat-a šel saxkanit mefursemet

in-es-auction es-public was-sold dress-cs-3fs of actress famous

'The dress of a famous actress was sold in the auction.'

57We thus agree with the received view in the literature on the construct state (other than Danon) that a definite annex necessarily generates a definite (either weak or strong) construct.

6. Amount definites

58As shown in section 3 above, cs-nouns denoting amounts combine with referring definite NPs. Examples are shown again below, where the literal translation emphasizes the fact that these examples are constructed by merging the amount noun externally to the definite NP (rather than as part of the definite NP, as in English):

(65)

a.

šlošet

ha-targilim

b.

kos

ha-yayin

three-cs

es-exercises

glass-cs

es-wine

'the three exercises'

'the glass of wine'

literally:

'the exercises, of which there are three' 'the wine, of which there is a glass'

  • 15 There is syncretism of the absolute and construct forms of the noun kos 'glass', as seen in (65b) a (...)
  • 16 The fact that cs-nouns denoting amounts do not combine with indefinite NPs can be explained as foll (...)

On the other hand, indefinite nouns are combined with a specifier NP where the amount noun is in the absolute state:15, 16

(66)

a.

šloša targilim

b.

kos yayin

Three exercises

glass wine

'three exercises'

'a glass of wine'

  • 17 The process of emphaticity sharing in the construct was described in (34b-35b) above. This process (...)

59In Modern Hebrew, there is a second, colloquial, construction for definite NPs with numeral/ amount nouns, in addition to the formal one shown in (65); we have called the colloquial construction amount definites. In (67a) below we repeat the formal construction (65a), and we illustrate the parallel amount definites in (67b). In the formal construction, the counted noun is in the es form; in the amount definites, it is the numeral which is in the es form, while the counted noun is in the absolute form. On principle, this difference of attachment of the definite article (the es inflectional morpheme) is simply a difference of register and is not reflected in the interpretation. It seems to correlate with the tendency to avoid the process of "emphaticity sharing" in the colloquial language. In the formal (a) constructions in (67-69) below, the construct state numeral shares the emphatic feature of its emphatic annex. In the colloquial construction in (b), the numeral is independently marked as emphatic:17

(67)

a.

šlošet

ha-targilim

b.

colloquial:

ha-šloša targilim

three-cs es-exercises

es-three exercises

both: 'the three exercises

(68)

a.

Xamešet ha-šqalim

b.

colloquial:

ha-xamiša šqalim

five-cs es-Shekels

es-five Shekels

both: 'the five Shekels'

(69)

a.

Kos ha-yayin

b.

colloquial:

ha-kos yayin

glass-cs es-wine

es-glass wine

both: 'the glass of wine'

60Semantically, when an indefinite with a numeral or a measure phrase such as in (66) appears within an intensional construction, as in (70) below, the numeral is always interpreted de-re, though the noun itself may be interpreted de-re or de-dicto (Heycock 1995). Thus, (70) is ambiguous, and can be interpreted such that the requirement is to solve either particular exercises, the number of which is three, or a particular number of exercises, which is three:

(70)

kedey

la'avor, carix

li-ftor

šloša

targilim

in-order

to-pass, required

to-solve

three

exercises

'In order to pass, one is required to solve three exercises.'

a. 'the requirement is to solve specific exercises, the number of which is three.'

b. 'the requirement is to solve a number of exercises, which happens to be three.'

61Based on the literal interpretation we derived for the corresponding definite in (65a), we predict that (71) unambiguously only has the first reading, which is indeed the case:

(71)

kedey

la'avor, carix

li-ftor

et

šlošet

ha-targilim

in-order

to-pass, required

to-solve

acc

three-cs

es-exercises

'In order to pass, one is required to solve the three exercises.'

only (a): 'the requirement is to solve the exercises, the number of which is three.'

62To express the (b) reading, we need the colloquial amount definite construction where the numeral is not in the cs from, but constitutes a NP which can be LF-raised on its own outside the scope of the intensional predicate (i.e. separated from its annex), so that the numeral alone is de-re. Thus the same sentence with the amount definite regains the ambiguity of the indefinite:

(72)

kedey

la'avor, carix

li-ftor

et

ha-šloša

targilim

in-order

to-pass, required

to-solve acc

es-three

exercises

'In order to pass, .....'

a. 'the requirement is to solve the exercises, the number of which is three.'

b. 'one must solve the required number of exercises, which is three.'

63Notice that the (b) readings in (70) and (72) are not exactly identical. In (72) the number of exercises is an explicit part of the requirement. We will account for that by postulating that the emphatic numeral is interpreted as salient in the context.

64Similarly, when there is a relative clause, only the amount definite gives rise to an amount relative. The relative clause in (73a), with the formal cs numeral, only denotes a property of objects, whereas the one in (73b), with the colloquial es numeral, can also be interpreted as an amount relative:

(73)

a.

patarti

yoter mi-

šlošet

ha-targilim

še-

at

patart

I-solved

more than

three-cs

es-exercises

that

you-fs

solved

'I solved more than the three exercises that you solved.'

b.

patarti

yoter mi-

ha-šloša

targilim

še-

at

patart

I-solved

more than

es-three

exercises

that

you-fs

solved

'I solved a higher number of exercises than the number of the three exercises that you solved.'

65While (73a) means that you solved three exercises and I solved the same ones and more, (73b) also means that you solved three exercises and I solved at least four.

66We claim that both the formal and colloquial numeral constructions in (67-69) are definite in form, yet the colloquial construction, the amount definite, may be interpreted as indefinite. Thus, amount definites constitute a novel type of weak definites.

  • 18 Another characteristic of the colloquial construction is the approximative flavour of some exampl (...)

67The indefinite interpretation of amount definites is revealed by their acceptability in environments where only NPs with indefinite interpretation are appropriate. In such environments, e.g. (74) – (77) below, the formal numeral constructions in (a) are judged by speakers as unacceptable, even within the formal register. Only the colloquial amount definites in (b) are judged as acceptable:18

(74)

ha-mišpaxot

im

es-families

with

a.

# šlošet

ha-yeladim

three-cs

es-children

'the families with the three children'

b.

ha-šloša

yeladim

es-three

children

'the families with three children'

(75)

ha-alut

le-mišpaxa

lo

overet

et

es-cost

per-family

neg

exceeds

acc

a.

#xamešet

ha-šqalim

five-cs

es-Shekels

'The cost per family does not exceed the 5 Shekels.'

b.

ha-xamiša

šqalim

es-five

Shekels

'The cost per family does not exceed 5 Shekels.'

(76)

crixat ha-alkohol šelo hi bisvivot

Consumption es-alcohol his is about

a.

#kos ha-yayin be-yom

glass-cs es-wine in-day

'His alcohol intake is about the glass of wine a day.'

b.

ha-kos yayin be-yom

es-glass wine in-day

'His alcohol intake is about a glass of wine a day.'

(77)

habe'ayot še- nitqalim bahem kše- xosxim et

es-problems that one faces them when one saves acc

a.

#me'at ha-šqalim al ixsun

hundred-cs es-Shekels on storage

'the problems one faces when one saves the one hundred Shekels for storage'

b.

ha-me'a šqalim al ixsun

es-hundred Shekels on storage

'the problems one faces when one saves one hundred Shekels for storage.'

68We will not discuss each one of these minimal pairs separately. As an illustration, we formally present the contrast in (74) repeated here in (78).

(78)

a.

# ha-mišpaxot im šlošet ha-yeladim

es-families with three-cs es-children

'The families with the three children'

b.

ha-mišpaxot im ha-šloša yeladim

es-families with es-three children

'The families with three children'

69We propose the following semantic translations for the absolute, emphatic and construct state forms of the numeral respectively:

(79)

a.

šloša 'three' ~>  lP. Fi [ly. P(y) & |y| = 3]  i is new

where |y| denotes the number of atoms that the sum individual y consists of

b.

ha-šloša 'es-three' ~>  λR. [lx. FC, x [ly. R (y, x) & |y| = 3]

c.

šlošet 'three-cs' ~>  λx. FC

[λy. y=x & |y| = 3]

= λx. x if |x| = 3

70Thus, šloša in (79a) is an indefinite determiner interpreted with a new choice function; ha-šloša in (79b) is defined as the corresponding weak definite; šlošet in (79c) is a functional cs noun which serves as a test: it maps an individual to itself if this individual consists of 3 atoms. We can thus rewrite (79c) as the identity function  λx. x, in case |x| = 3.

71We construct the two different interpretations of the sentences in (78), and account for their difference in acceptability:

72The oddity of (80) stems from the fact that the families in its denotation all include the same unique group of three children, i.e. the most salient plurality (typically the maximal one) of three children. But knowledge of the world tells us that different families normally have different groups of children. In (81) on the other hand, each family u has a different group of children yielded by FC, u. The weak definite nature of the numeral satisfies the requirement of definiteness agreement between the head and the modifier (Danon 2008b):

7. Conclusion

73Relational nouns R are nouns of type <e,<e,t>>, and we have proposed a particular rule which shifts their denotations to functions, i.e. type <e,e>, yielding weak definites:

(82)

λx. [λy. R(y, x)] → λx. FC, x [λy. R(y, x)]

74In English, this type-shift is triggered by the presence of the definite article the in weak definite possessive constructions such as the one in (83):

(83)

the leg of the table

75The definite article in this construction is attached to the relational head and not to the phrase as a whole, and shifts the relational noun's interpretation to a function, as in (82). This function maps the possessor to a single leg, without the presupposition that the leg is unique to begin with.

76We have argued that in Hebrew, the type-shift in (82) is triggered by the cs form of the head in combination with the es form of the annex, e.g.

(84)

regel ha-šulxan

leg-cs es-table

'the leg of the table'

77We have also discussed an additional type of weak definites, the colloquial Hebrew amount definites, where the relevant type-shift is triggered by an es numeral. For example, whe have shown that the es numeral ha-šloša 'es-three' triggers the type shift in (85) when it combines with a relational noun such as yeladim 'children'.

(85)

λx. [λy. R(y, x)] → λx. FC, x [λy. R(y, x) & |y| = 3]

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Barker, Chris (2005). Possessive weak definites. In Ji-Yung, K.; Lander, Y. & Partee, B. (eds.) Possessives and Beyond: Semantics and Syntax: 89–113. Amherst, MA: GLSA Publications.

Beyssade, Claire (2012). Back to uniqueness presupposition: the case of weak definites. Talk presented at Florianopolis.

Borer, Hagit (1984). Parametric Syntax: Case Studies in Semitic and Romance Languages. Dordrecht: Foris Publications.

Borer, Hagit (1988). On the morphological parallelism between compounds and constructs. In Booij, G. & van Marle, J. (eds.) Yearbook of Morphology, vol. 1: 45–65. Dordrecht: Foris.

Borer, Hagit (1996). The construct in review. In Lecarme, J.; Lowenstamm, J. & Ur Shlonsky (eds.) Studies in Afroasiatic Grammar: 30-61. The Hague: Holland Academic Graphics.

Borer, Hagit (1999). Deconstructing the construct. In Johnson, K. & Roberts, I. (eds.) Beyond Principles and Parameters: 43–89. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Borer, Hagit (2009). Compounds: the view from Hebrew. In Lieber, R. & Štekauer, P. (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Compounding. 491-511. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Buxtorf, Johann (1651). Thesaurus Grammaticus Linguae Sanctae Hebraeae. [reprint forthcoming. Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press]

Carlson, Greg N. (1977). Amount Relatives. Language 53/3: 520-542.

Carlson, Greg; Sussman, Rachel (2005). Seemingly indefinite definites. In Kepsar, S. & Reis, M. (eds.), Linguistic Evidence : 71-86. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Carlson Greg; Sussman, Rachel; Klein, Natalie; Tanenhaus, Michael (2006). Weak Definite Noun Phrases. In Proceedings of NELS 36: 179-196. Amherst, MA: GLSA.

Crnič, Luka (2010). Indefiniteness in counting. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Penn Linguistics Colloquium.

Danon, Gabi (2001). Syntactic definiteness in the grammar of Modern Hebrew. Linguistics 39/6: 1071–1116.

Danon, Gabi (2008a). Definiteness spreading in the Hebrew construct state. Lingua 118: 872-906.

Danon, Gabi (2008b). Definiteness agreement with PP modifiers. In Armon-Lotem, S.; Danon, G. & Rothstein: Susan (eds). Current Issues in Generative Hebrew Linguistics: 137-160. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Danon, Gabi (2010). The definiteness feature at the syntax-semantics interface. In Kibort, A. & Corbett, G. (eds). Features: Perspectives on a Key Notion in Linguistics: 143-165. Oxford: OUP.

Dobrovie-Sorin, Carmen (2000). (In)definiteness spread: from Romanian genitives to Hebrew construct state nominals. In Motapanyane, V. (ed.) Comparative Studies in Romanian Syntax : 177–226. Oxford: Elsevier.

Dobrovie-Sorin, Carmen (2001). De la syntaxe a l'interprétation, de Milner (1982) à Milner (1995): le génitif. In Marandin, J.-M. (ed.) Cahier Jean Claude Milner: 56-98. Paris :Verdier.

Dobrovie-Sorin, Carmen (2003). From DPs to NPs: A bare phrase structure account of genitives. In Coene, M. & D’hulst, Y. (eds.) From NP to DP, volume 2, The Expression of Possession in Noun Phrases: 75–120. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Doron, Edit; Meir, Irit (to appear). Construct State: Modern Hebrew. In Khan, G. (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, Leiden: Brill.

Engelhardt, Miriam (1998). The Syntax of Nominalized Properties. Ph.D. dissertation, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Engelhardt, Miriam (2000). The projection of argument-taking nominals. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 18/1: 41–88.

Hazout, Ilan (2000). Adjectival genitive constructions in Modern Hebrew. The Linguistic Review 17/1: 29–52.

Heller, Daphna (2002). Possession as a Lexical Relation: Evidence from the Hebrew Construct State. In Mikkelsen L. & Potts, C. (eds.) Proceedings of WCCFL 21: 127–140.

Heim, Irene (1983). On the projection problem of presuppositions. In Barlow, M.; Flickinger, D. & Wescoat, M. (eds.) Proceedings of WCCFL 2: 114-125.

Heim, Irene (1987). Where does the definiteness restriction apply: evidence from the definiteness of variables. In Reuland, E.J. & ter Meulen, A.G.B. (eds). The Representation of (In)definiteness: 21-42. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Heim, Irene (2011). Definiteness and indefiniteness. In von Heusinger, K.; Maienborn, C. & Portner, P. (eds.) Semantics: An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, vol 2: 996-1025. Berlin: de Gruyter.

Heusinger, Klaus von (2004). Choice Functions and the Anaphoric Semantics of Definite NPs. Research on Language and Computation 2: 309–329.

Heycock, Caroline (1995). Asymmetries in Reconstruction. Linguistic Inquiry 26: 547-570.

Jong, Franciska de (1987). The compositional nature of (in)definiteness. In Reuland, E. J. & ter Meulen, A. G. B. (eds.) The Representation of (In)definiteness: 270–285. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Link, Godehard (1983). The logical analysis of plurals and mass terms: A lattice-theoretical approach. In Bäuerle, R.; Schwartze; C. & von Stechow, A. (eds) Meaning, Use, and the Interpretation of Language: 302–323. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.

Meir, Irit; Doron, Edit (2013). Degrammaticalization as linguistic change: the case of the definite article in Modern Hebrew (in Hebrew). Forthcoming in Leshonenu.

Milsark, Gary. 1977. Towards an explanation of certain peculiarities in the existential construction in English. Linguistic Analysis 3:1–30.

Moscati, Sabatino; Spitaler, Anton; Ullendorff, Edward; von Soden, Wolfram (1969). An Introduction to the Comparative Grammar of the Semitic Languages: Phonology and Morphology. Porta Linguarum Orientalium N.S.6. Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz.

Partee, Barbara H.; Borschev, Vladimir (2001). Some puzzles of predicate possession. In Harnish, R. M. & Kenesei, I. (eds.) Perspectives on Semantics, Pragmatics and Discourse: A Festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer: 91-117. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Partee, Barbara H.; Borschev, Vladimir (2003). Genitives, relational nouns, and argument-modifier ambiguity. In Lang, E.; Maienborn, C. & Fabricius-Hansen, C. (eds.) Modifying Adjuncts (Interface Explorations 4): 67-112. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Poesio, Massimo (1994). Weak Definites. In Proceedings of the Fourth Conference on Semantics and Linguistics Theory (SALT) 4: 282-299.

Reuchlin, Johannes (1506). De rudimentis hebraicis. Pforzheim.

Ritter, Elizabeth (1988). A head movement approach to construct-state noun phrases. Linguistics 26/6: 909-929.

Rothstein, Susan (2009). Individuating and measure readings of classifier constructions: Evidence from Modern Hebrew. Brill's annual of Afroasiatic languages and linguistics 1:106–145.

Rosén, Haiim (1957). Ivrit tova: iyunim be taxbir [Good Hebrew: Studies in Syntax]. Jerusalem: Kiryat Sefer. (In Hebrew).

Schlenker, Philippe (2004). Conditionals as Definite Descriptions (A Referential Analysis). Research on Language and Computation 2: 417–462.

Siloni, Tal (2000). Nonnominal Constructs. In Lecarme, J.; Lowenstamm, J. & Shlonsky, Ur (eds.) Research in Afroasiatic Grammar 2 : 301-323. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Siloni, Tal (2001). Construct states at the PF interface. In Pica, P.& Rooryck, J. (eds.) Linguistic Variation Yearbook, vol 1: 229-266. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Siloni, Tal (2002). Adjectival constructs and inalienable constructions. In Ouhalla, J. & Shlonsky, U. (eds.) Themes and issues in the syntax of Arabic and Hebrew Syntax: 161-187. Dordrecht: Kluwer.

Siloni, Tal (2003). Prosodic case checking domain: the case of constructs. In Lecarme, J. (ed.) Research in Afroasiatic Grammar II : 481–510. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Sharvy, R. (1980). A more general theory of definite descriptions. The Philosophical Review, 89/4: 607–624.

Shlonsky, Ur (2004). The form of Semitic noun phrases. Lingua 114/12: 1465–1526.

Vikner, Carl; Jensen, Per Anker (2002). A semantic analysis of the English genitive. Interaction of lexical and formal semantics. Studia Linguistica 56: 191-226.

Winter, Yoad (2001). Flexibility Principles in Boolean Semantics. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Haut de page

Notes

1 We leave aside the strong reading, which these examples also have, where the definite NP presupposes uniqueness, as it is already familiar/salient in the discourse.

2 Note that there are conditions on the particular objects denoted by the nouns, and thus it may not be enough to analyse the weak indefinites in (18-22) as incorporated predicates, as Carlson and Sussman do. For example, in the context of the question 'How do you know Obama dislikes Netanyahu?' an answer such as (i), in Hebrew, has to invoke a local newspaper, not just any newspaper:

(i) ze katuv b-a-iton
'It is written in the newspaper.'

3 Notice that body parts have to be visible and distinguishable in order to be included in the domain of FC, x. We find such contrasts in Hebrew between (a) and (b) in the following:

Image 10000000000001E50000005AADD4FA9F.png
What counts as visible/distinguishable seems to be language dependent, e.g. in French the contrast is not exactly isomorphic:

(iii) Jean s'est cassé la jambe/ # la dent/ # le cheveu (Beyssade 2012)
'Jean broke the leg/ # the tooth/ # the hair'

4 The morphological term emphatic is a Semiticists' term marking a particular value of the inflectional state of a noun, and is unrelated to the phonological term emphatic in the sense of stressed.

5 We assume names and pronouns are inherently emphatic. Note also that the default form of the noun is taken to be the absolute state, and we therefore do not gloss absolute state nouns with a state specification.

6 We predict that adjacency plays a central role in the transmission of emphaticity to the cs-head. Indeed, it is well known that there can be no intervening constituent between the head and the annex. We add here an additional argument to that effect: when the annex is a conjunction, it is the [±emph] value of the first conjunct of the annex which determines the value of the emphaticity feature of the cs-head:

Image 100000000000026400000045921AEE75.png

In (i), the annex sales people and their assistants consists of a conjunction of which the first is a [-emph] construct sales people, and thus disallows the accusative marker et found only with definite NPs. It turns out that the [+emph] value of the second conjunct of the annex (ozrey-hem, marked as [+emph] by the possessive pronominal clitic -hem) is irrelevant for the licensing of et. Thus it is the conjunct adjacent to the cs-head which determines its definiteness. Note that the cs-head itself may be a conjunction of two cs-nouns. Only the second conjunct is adjacent to the feature [+emph], and we leave open the question of the nature of the process by which the first conjunct inherits that feature:

(ii) menahaley ve ovdey ha-xevra
managers-cs and workers-cs es-firm
'the managers and workers of the firm'

7 We thus derive the well-known restriction that ha- is never prefixed to a cs noun.

8 As shown in examples (34)-(35) above, a cs head shares the Emph feature of its annex. A NP with an Emph-marked head is marked as Emph as well, but, for NPs, we replace the subscript Emph by Def.

9 Rather, it is the partitive interpretation of (45) which is special..

10 Danon (2001, 2008a, 2010) maintains that annex es-nouns which are not definite are also found in constructs which are not compounds, such as picture NPs. His example is (i), which is indeed not a compound. Danon claims that though the annex is an es-N, it is not necessarily definite, and that it is possible to translate (i) as the picture of a monk:

(i) tmunat ha-nazir
picture-cs es-monk
Indeed, if there are two monks and the picture depicts only one of them, there is no presupposition failure. Imagine a gallery which exhibits among other things the picture of a monk, and the statue of a different monk. A visitor can say

(ii) tmunat ha-nazir me'anyenet
picture-cs es-monk (is) interesting
without presupposition failure (this argument is due to Gabi Danon p.c.). But notice that exactly the same is true for the corresponding English
The picture of the monk is interesting. In the discussion of (31) above, we noted that the noun picture is not necessarily extensional, i.e. it does not necessarily relate an actual monk to his picture. But even if it does, in picture NPs, the picture is considered to be the context, and, as long as the monk depicted is unique within the picture, it counts as unique. We thus maintain that the only translation of (i) is the picture of the monk.

11 In the periphrastic construction, both nouns appear in the absolute state or the es, and are therefore independently marked as [± emph]; the possessor is separated from the head noun by the preposition šel ‘of’.

12 There is an additional version of the construct which includes clitic doubling (Borer 1984); this version too is relational.

13 The amount constructs in (42a) and (44) above are additional examples of constructs with functional heads.

14 The bolded NP in (64) is indeed a weak definite, as it does not presuppose uniqueness of a dress per actress.

15 There is syncretism of the absolute and construct forms of the noun kos 'glass', as seen in (65b) and (66b). These forms can be distinguished in that the construct state glass-cs must be adjacent to the annex wine, as explained in section 3 above, whereas the absolute state glass can head its own phrase and be separated from wine:

(i) a. * kos va-xeci ha-yayin
glass-cs and-half es-wine 'the glass and a half wine'
b. kos va-xeci yayin
glass and-half wine 'a glass and a half wine'

16 The fact that cs-nouns denoting amounts do not combine with indefinite NPs can be explained as follows: When a cs-noun denoting an amount combines with an NP, it combines with this NP only under a collective interpretation; e.g. three in (65a) is true of the collection of exercises, not of each of them separately. But an indefinite does not have a collective interpretation when it is an argument of an individual-level relation (Crnič 2010). For example, consider the contrast:

Image 100000000000023200000087C3434517.png

In the (b) examples, the indefinite plural can only be interpreted distributively. For example, (ib) only asks about the distributive weight of books, and (iib) claims (infelicitously) that each student is a team. If an indefinite only has a distributive reading, it cannot combine with a cs-noun denoting an amount, since the latter requires a collective annex:

(iii) * šlošet targilim
three-cs exercises
'three exercises'

17 The process of emphaticity sharing in the construct was described in (34b-35b) above. This process is avoided in colloquial Hebrew not only with numerals, but also in compounds, where the emphatic marker ha- is attached to the compound as a whole (ib) rather than to the annex as in (ia). We do not discuss this phenomenon further here, but see Meir & Doron (2013).

Image 10000000000001C90000005F14EF1B9E.png

18 Another characteristic of the colloquial construction is the approximative flavour of some examples, e.g (77b) where the cost may vary slightly for each instance of storage, though all instances are around 100 Shekel. We do not discuss approximativity further here, but see Meir & Doron 2013.

Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Edit Doron et Irit Meir, « Amount definites », Recherches linguistiques de Vincennes [En ligne], 42 | 2013, mis en ligne le 01 mars 2014, consulté le 19 octobre 2017. URL : http://rlv.revues.org/2199 ; DOI : 10.4000/rlv.2199

Haut de page

Auteurs

Edit Doron

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
edit@vms.huji.ac.il

Articles du même auteur

Irit Meir

The University of Haifa
imeir@univ.haifa.ac.il

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

© Presses universitaires de Vincennes

Haut de page