Counting atoms or sums? An evaluation of two theses about cross-linguistic variation in numeral-noun constructions
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The morphological form that nouns take when they combine with numerals varies greatly across languages. English numerals take a plural noun (two boys), while Turkish numerals require the noun to be singular (iki çocuk, lit. ‘two boy’). These data have led to two opposing views on the semantics of numerals: i) numerals are modifiers that restrict sets of pluralities (Bale et al., 2011), and ii) numerals are functions that operate on sets of singulars (Deal, 2017). In this thesis, I use data from Turkish, Western Armenian, Welsh, and Syrian Arabic to evaluate how both views deal with numeral-noun constructions from various number marking systems. I argue that neither Bale et al.’s (2011) nor Deal’s (2017) thesis can fully account for the presented data. Finally, I suggest that singularity or plurality may not be the relevant feature for number marking selection in numeral-noun constructions.